Archive for November 20th, 2006

The pressure to police users–a blogwars update

November 20, 2006

A growing issue for companies and organizations involved in a “blogwar,” is the posting of copyrighted content on places like YouTube. Here’s the scenario. Your company produces ads or promotional videos which the critics take, distort, turn into parodies, comment on, or in other ways attempt to turn against you. Then they post it on sites like YouTube, GoogleVideo, MySpace, etc.

If your company is in this situation, you have an interesting dilemma. Use the copyright laws to require your critics to take the offending post down? You can do that, but you face the very likely attack in the blogosphere of “trying to control content and end debate.” It runs counter to the blog values that says anyone should be able to say anything about anyone else and any for profit entity that tries to protect itself is not transparent and is trying to hide something.  So the policy seems to be that reserve the big legal hammers for only the most egregious violations of copyrighted content and have a pretty high level of tolerance for most of the garbage that gets thrown out there.

Now some help on this issue is coming from content producers who have a strong financial interest in protecting their copyrights. We noticed lately how YouTube had beefed up their requirements for the person posting content to make certain that they owned the copyright or had permission from the copyright owner before posting anything to YouTube. Clearly a defensive measure.

Now comes a lawsuit by Universal Music Group against MySpace for failing to police MySpace users against posting copyrighted material (music in this case) which they don’t own. Look to see MySpace beefing up its policies in order to protect itself. Clearly YouTube and MySpace don’t believe they are in a position to take no responsibility for the copyright issues. And since they are the big target, it means that they will work harder to protect themselves against those who misuse copyrighted material. And that’s good news for those in “blogwars.”

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