Microsoft, Viacom Posture On Content Sharing

    October 19, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

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.