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Italy Investigating Google Employees for Video Violence

Now this is interesting. Italian prosecutors are investigating two Google Italy employees as part of an inquiry into how a violent video appeared on Google Video.

The two are being investigated for allegedly failing to check on the content of the video posted on the Internet search engine’s Web site.

As Reuters points out, the investigation doesn’t imply guilt, but it’s interesting that Italy appears to be holding the two Google employees accountable, as opposed to Google itself. It appears, Italy is investigating the event the same way it would investigate a journalist or TV reporter.

Italy’s Education Minister Giuseppe Fioroni said the prosecutors had been right to apply to the Internet the same legislation that in Italy regulates what can be published in newspapers or broadcast on television.

Why Online Video Will Not Topple TV

The BBC conducted a survey of more than 2,000 people to learn more about their online video viewing habits. While the Reuters report suggests that nearly half of Brits are watching less traditional TV, the reality is a little different. Here’s what Reuters leads with…

The ICM poll of 2,070 people for the BBC found that some 43 percent of Britons who watch video from the Internet or on a mobile device at least once a week said they watched less traditional TV as a result.

Sounds like the beginning of the end for TV, doesn’t it? But wait…

Online video viewers are still a minority though, with just 9 percent saying they go online regularly to watch clips.

French Film Producer Sues Google

A French film producer is suing Google, claiming the company infringed on its copyright by allowing his movie, “The World According to Bush”, to be freely downloaded from Google Video France.

“We made estimates of the prejudice and its goes well beyond 500,000 euros ($648,700). The film has been downloaded about 50,000 times and it has certainly been copied afterwards,” Lepetit [the producer] said in a telephone interview.

Google has since removed the video, but this suit does nothing to dampen concerns that Google Video (and YouTube) will face an influx of law suits, unless they can figure out a way to monitor uploads for copyrighted content.

Short Video Ads Less Annoying

A couple of weeks ago, we reported how 80% of video viewers find video ads to be annoying. PodZinger, a video ad network, obviously has a lot to lose based on that report, so they commissioned their own.

According to ClickZ, PodZinger’s research revealed viewers will tolerate 10- to 15-second ads, as long as they are not bombarded with ads and the content is targeted.

Of course, that’s like Philip Morris telling us their study reveals most young smokers enjoy cigarettes. PodZinger has skin in the game, so I’ll sit on the fence until an independant study reveals the same findings.

Universal Music Suing MySpace

Universal Music has decided the best way to obtain licensing fees from MySpace is to sue them first, establish an infringement, and then do the deal. At least, that appears to be their strategy, according to the NY Times.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, is seen as part of a strategy by Universal to test provisions of a federal law that provides a “safe harborâ€? to Internet companies that follow certain procedures to filter out copyrighted works…If Universal can win in court, it is likely to gain leverage in negotiating licensing terms with user-driven services — just at the moment that those services are attracting deep-pocketed partners.

MySpace seperately announced a new tool that would allow copyright holders to flag videos used without permission. Right…pure coincidence, I’m sure.

Google Holds $200m to Defend YouTube Copyright Claims

Just last week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt denied there was any truth to the rumors that the company would set aside $500 million from the YouTube deal, to protect against any copyright infringement suits.

Today, we get one more example of why you can never truly take what Google says at face value. While Schmidt didn’t lie, we learn he was very careful in his reply, as Google has in fact set aside $200+ million for such law suits.

I’ve said for many years that statements such as “we have no current plans” or “we do not intend” have no weight, when coming from Google.

Now, of course, every video publisher knows they can sue Google for copyright infringement, safe in the knowledge there’s a cool $200m to share.

YouTube Shows Double Standard with Cease & Desist Letter

If Michael Arrington hadn’t posted the actual cease and desist letter from YouTube’s attorney, I probably wouldn’t have believed the company had asked him to remove a tool that allows people to download and store YouTube videos.

It’s extremely hypocritical that YouTube so freely violates the copyright of so many video creators, yet feel they need to prevent others from accessing their content – which isn’t even there’s, as Arrington explains.

Given that downloads, with proper copyright attribution, are permitted under the Terms of Use, it seems like there is no problem at all for a user to download a video for personal use and put it on his or her iPod.

Arrington further suggests that this could just be YouTube covering its butt, by sending the letter, with no real intention of following-up. Either way, the letter is plain crazy.