Posted May 27, 2008 10:32 am by with 6 comments

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Is it just me, or does Google’s attempt to defend YouTube from Viacom’s copyright allegations sound like something the NRA would say?

According to Reuters

[Google] said that by seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom “threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression.”

I’m not trivializing gun-control here, but Google’s implying that, as Americans, we have the right to bear copyrighted videos and share them with anyone we wish.

Viacom is accusing Google of doing “little or nothing” to police gun-permits copyright infringement. Google, on the other hand, claims that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act should protect YouTube from being sued–after all, it does take down copyrighted material, upon request.

I know it’s easy for us to side with Google on this case–we want to keep our right to share videos online. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that Viacom is the only bad guy here. All Viacom wants is the proper enforcement of its copyright protection–something it accuses Google of failing to do.

You do have the right to bear arms share videos, but at the same time, the gun store Google has to do its part to ensure you have the correct permits to do so.

  • Andy –

    The second amendment doesn’t talk about gun permits.

    And gun stores who legally sell guns (tricky b/c of the overlapping, contradictory, and plain stupid requirements of local, state, and federal licensing agencies) have been found not liable for the behavior of gun buyers. Ditto for gun manufacturers.

    Which is good, if you have any stake in an auto industry, appliance industry, sports industry, etc, etc.


  • @Oliver – I’m not an expert on gun law, and I don’t want to get too off track by discussing the analogy, but, doesn’t a gun store have to check for violations of the Gun Control Act, when selling a gun?

  • PS3

    I’m more interested in the right to share video argument. A friend is trying to set up a “watch family guy episodes” video site and everyone is telling him that he will end up with copyright issues (even if the files are hosted elsewhere).

  • PS3: my understanding is that your friend could get in real trouble because he’s setting himself up as the enabler of the filesharing and if he owns the webaddress then there is a clear (and subpena-able) link to his name, address, number, etc.

    As for the rest of the article, it is an interesting parallel but I feel falls a little short. Could Google/YouTube do more to police copyrighted videos? Probably. Are making ISP’s and websites (that rely on user generated content) explicitly responsible for the content that flows through them a bad idea for the open exchange of information? Probably.

    A more apt analogy might be making the construction companies that build the roads responsible for policing them.

    I do believe in accountability. If Google/YouTube wants to avoid taking the rub for copyright infringement I think they need to provide clear information for legal entities wishing to track violators who use their site. After all, in order to post a video on YouTube you have to promise that you have the legal right to post it.

  • For me the biggest problem in all of this is the anonymous sharing on YouTube. If Viacom could force Google to have on file full verified contact details for all people uploading, the copyright infringement would disappear.

    Andy Beard’s last blog post..You Can’t Charge For Twitter Popularity

  • Andy – I find Google’s posturing and statements alarming. With great power comes great responsibility…. right? I don’t think you can blame Viacom for attempting to protect its copyrighted material. As a blogger perhaps I am a bit over sensitive to this issue having my site scraped and my content used without my authorization to many times to count.

    Our Monmouth’s last blog post..Google Fights for the Right to Party (Hide Its Privacy Policy)