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Microsoft, Viacom Posture On Content Sharing

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The newly announced User Generated Content Principles, backed by several media companies, exhorts websites to filter content while paying lip service to fair use.

Microsoft, Viacom Posture On Content Sharing
Microsoft, Viacom Posture On Content Sharing

CBS, Disney, Fox, NBC, and Viacom are among those boosting User Generated Content Principles, a set of guidelines for sharing content online without violating anyone’s copyrights. Sharing through a service like YouTube should be allowed, provided it takes place in accordance with their suggested rules:

In coming together around these Principles, Copyright Owners and UGC Services recognize that they share several important objectives:
(1) the elimination of infringing content on UGC Services,
(2) the encouragement of uploads of wholly original and authorized user-generated audio and video content,
(3) the accommodation of fair use of copyrighted content on UGC Services, and
(4) the protection of legitimate interests of user privacy.
We believe that adhering to these Principles will help UGC Services and Copyright Owners achieve those objectives.

But as David Kravets indicated on Threat Level, YouTube and Google aren’t among those promoting the UGCP, as they just unveiled a system to accomplish the same task.

The lengthy UGCP document mentions ‘fair use’ four times. It doesn’t mention what the supporting organizations consider fair use, a situation that really needs to be clarified in this day and age.

Don’t wait for the media companies to help with this. Since fair use is a nebulous concept at best, these titans of industry could have served the Internet using public by defining what will and won’t draw a DMCA notice from the UGCP signatories.

It’s difficult to see UGCP as anything other than a tacit endorsement of what Microsoft wants to promote in the digital rights management space. Without a better definition of fair use, UGCP isn’t of much use to anyone outside of a movie or TV studio, or a recording label. It doesn’t serve the public one bit.

Microsoft, Viacom Posture On Content Sharing
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  • http://www.imageline2.com George Riddick

    The UGC Principles

    A Giant Leap for Mankind … or A Small Step into Quicksand

    First of all, as a representative of one of the millions of creative individuals and small businesses out here who generate a healthy percentage of all copyrighted works in this country, I would like to applaud the large media, entertainment, and software companies for their efforts … even as I point out several serious flaws in their approach. I can see how these (User Generated Content, or “UGC”, Principles) announcements benefit Viacom in its lawsuit with YouTube/Google and Microsoft in its attempts to regain some degree of industry “leadership” and focused direction in the various copyright industries affected by Internet and CD/DVD piracy.

    Do they benefit most companies, or individuals, who create copyrighted works equally? Unfortunately, I don’t hink so.

    Four (4) serious problems exist with this first attempt at regaining some degree of control inte copyright protection arena:

    1. Principles that conflict with laws do nothing but create chaos and generate legal fees.

    2. Companies who develop over 80% of all new copyrighted works are not represented.

    3. Google and Yahoo were excluded for some reason known only in Silicon Valley or DC.

    4. This is a connected world nowadays. International compliance is essential to succeed.

    Here are my thoughts on these four concerns, as well as an article I posted last week pertaining the largest money-maker from infringement activity of them all … Google.

    1. This new alliance will not work as it currently stands, however. It is only guidelines, not law. In fact, it conflicts with existing copyright laws in some areas. That, alone, will create chaos on a battlefield where both sides are armed with tons of cash (did someone say “Google”?).

    2. There is no representation of the millions of people who depend on the licensing fees and royalties generated from legitimate copyrighted works in this alliance. I simply cannot believe these huge publicly funded companies haven’t realized it’s not just their billionaire owners who have a stake in this game.

    3. Any agreement in principle that does not include the two prominent Internet “eyeball” companies in the United States (Google and Yahoo) among its “members” will not succeed. Simply stated, ALL major players in the copyright industry production and distribution channels have agree to these principles or they should not adopted at all. Democratic principles (i.e. 7 for and 3 against) will not work in an environment whereby any one rogue company can duplicate and distribute billions of perfect copies of just about anything on the planet overnight, and use unlawful infringement activities to actually gain market share.

    4. Any major initiative that includes practical changes ot the way we monitor and enforce copyrights in this country must be agreed to be all members of WIPO to have a chance to succeed. Today, a server in Bangladesh can do the exact same damage as one in Los Angeles, or Peoria, and with even less cost to the infringing company, or “pirates”. Tough sanctions MUST be enforced against foreign countries who violate the intellectual property rights agreed to in Berne Convention and in the WIPO treaties in the late 1990s. Administration officials have talked a big game here for years. Talk is cheap. International Enforcement Action is what is required if we are at all serious about this mission.

    Once again, I believe this is a step in the right direction. At least more attention is being paid to one of the most serious criminal and social epidemics of all time … stealing over the Internet and counterfeiting goods in the streets. I just hope the copyright industries stick with this and make the changes needed for this important mission to succeed.

    Now onto Google ….

    ****************************************************************************

    Google’s Video Voodoo

    Like everything else it does, Google only advances technology solutions that also advance its own cause … willful blindness, extraordinary profits, inflated egos, exponential market share growth, and/or unilateral control of all of the world’s data and images.

    What is needed here is an industry-wide set of standards and procedures to combat widespread piracy.
    Not just for video, but for digital music, movies, illustrated artwork, recipes, poems, photographs, short stories, news articles, and all other copyrighted works as well. Each industry segment needs to endorse its own workable and reasonable set of standards. Believe it or not, this is far easier than you might think.

    Some of these standards have already been set. My small graphic arts content development company here in Virginia has developed a workable solution for new electronic clipart illustrations, design templates, cartoons, logos/symbols, and animations. Even photography.

    We have tried to share these standards with the Google’s and Microsoft’s of this world, but they make far more profits from continuing to display and distribute infringing works, and sell online advertising beside them, than they would if they were to demand compliance or change their own internal operating procedures, even those that require little work on their part. They have, for the most part, ignored our offers to help curb piracy in our graphic arts content markets.

    If you remember nothing else from this article, please remember this one thing. “Piracy” is the most lucrative business model there is for these giant search and advertising driven companies, like Google, Ask.com, AOL, and Microsoft. They make the same gross revenues, and other “eyeball” benefits, with absolutely no cost of goods sold. They are not going to stop promoting piracy until we all force them to comply with the laws of this land. The solution requires the perfect balance of preventative industry standards upfront and strong enforcement (civil and criminal) against those who break the rules once they are caught. Willful pirates and willful distributors of stolen works.

    Industry accepted standards force two groups and two groups only to the back on the line … pirates … and those middlemen like Google who profit from the distribution of stolen property! Those who steal your work, or who steal the work of others that ultimately forces what you pay for things to go much higher. And those who cover up such unlawful distribution and create “red herrings”. This country has always called these people “crooks”. Why are the Googlites having such a hard time adapting to a world that respects copyrights? Think about it. How many Google billionaires did you see on the recent Forbes list of the top 400 billionaires in this country?

    Companies simply don’t trust Google the way Google apparently still thinks they do … especially companies who own copyrighted material. Don’t individual company solutions often create monopolistic business practices that in turn lead to greed, corruption, hypocrisy, and other illegal and/or unethical activities? Neither Google nor Microsoft deserve this kind of trust, or market power, from my experience. They have simply not earned it.

    This new Google video “solution”, a legal red herring if I’ve ever seen one, forces companies to send all of their work through Google in advance. And when an infringement occurs, the companies have to expend yet additional resources to monitor the infringements and choose between three options as to how to proceed to protect their property. Google gathers valuable data throughout the entire process. Google continues to sell AdWords and AdSense along the way. Who needs a Westlaw or an Appeals Court under this scary scenario?

    And doesn’t this approach of endorsing “after the fact” licensing further encourage pirates to continue their evil ways? Copyright defense lawyers will have a ball with this one. Just you wait and see. Think about it. If the penalty for stealing $200 worth of merchandise from 7-11 was your picture on a poster and a fine of 100 bucks, how many people would turn to this way of life?

    Google continues to make a fortune at each stage of their recommended “process”. What a joke. Voodoo. Let Google donate their technological solution to an independent third party monitoring service if they are serious.

    I thought we had laws in this country that cover this critical subject matter. Or is this yet another new “law of Goooglism”. Only two things will fix this serious piracy problem. VERY strict enforcement of our existing laws (civil and criminal) and industry standard ways of using technology to discourage or prevent piracy.

    No self-serving efforts are needed on this one, Google. Thanks anyway. The stakes are simply way too high!

    Here’s the net. It is high time we held Google accountable for their role in spreading Internet piracy beyond a controllable issue in all parts of the world … and intentionally I might add. And I base my view on facts I’ve gathered, not just speculation. They have contributed to making copyright infringement an epidemic of enormous economical and social importance. A white collar crime epidemic, the likes of which we have not witnessed in this country in a long, long time. They should not be applauded for this new technology. They should be condemned for their efforts in creating a world that requires technological safeguards to correct economic imbalances and engineering defections in its moral and ethical compass.

    If you can’t see this handwriting on the wall, then you are either very naive or have some sort of vested interest right along with Google (or perhaps even Microsoft) in fabricating these smokescreens.

    Please reconsider your position. We need as many people in this copyright protection boat as we can possible muster.

    George P. Riddick, III
    Chairman/CEO
    Imageline, Inc.
    griddick@imageline2.com