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Public Affairs via Web 2.0

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Everyone who owns a forum, a blog, a bulletin board or otherwise knows that to accept user content is to monitor what that user content. Does it makes sense for the web site, is the content that the user supplies something that fits in, makes sense, and is appropriate.

We have heard about all the spamming that happens in these systems, but a larger question posed by CIO today is:

    For YouTube, and quite possibly the Web 2.0 paradigm itself, matters came to a head this week when Viacom filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the Google-owned Web site. One question on the minds of many people watching the fallout from the Viacom suit against YouTube is whether a business can function legally if it allows unregulated user contributions. Source: CIO Today

Most sites at this point have someone who monitors what is being said on a web site that allows folks to comment. I have four web sites, and the majority of the comments that I get on them are all about selling some thing like drugs, or other materials. I delete them because I do not want to get black holed by Google or any other search engine. It takes about 30 minutes of my day, and some I am so familiar with seeing that I have inserted block words, or black listing words that I know I will not use. Like the formal name of a drug like cialis.

YouTube faces a world of unregulated user content. We want to share, the popularity of Peer-to-Peer networks, bit torrent, and others are all based on our ability to share. When people post to YouTube or otherwise, we are sharing something that we think is funny, or touched us in some way that we need to share with others.

While YouTube started off as "broadcast yourself", it is now a fundamental repository of video clips from copyrighted materials and works. There are hundreds of thousands of works on YouTube that the copyright belongs to someone else, and the owners of the copyrights are willing to enforce those copyrights.

Beyond the idea of sharing, is the idea of what is the benefit of someone posting a video to YouTube? More people watch or listen to a TV show that they might have missed otherwise. Word of mouth can make a TV show or movie more popular and possibility lead to more sales.

The flip side of this is that the secondary market is unregulated, it also has no direct monitory benefit to the maker of the work. And that is the crux issue of the whole web 2.0 phenomena, we will share regardless of what the copyright holder wants. We will repost the minute it is taken down, because we can.

The odd part about unregulated user content is that you can devote staff to remove things that you know are copyrighted. Alternatively, if you are unsure, wait to see who comes along and asks for a take down.

We already regulate user content, IT Toolbox regulates user comments, in a web site that according to alexa gets roughly 29,000 unique IP’s a day as visitors. YouTube gets roughly 8.5 million visitors a day. If we were getting that kind of traffic, we would have a way to regulate user content.

Moreover, we would have to because users are often unpredictable, and information security dictates that user input is not trustworthy.

YouTube obviously makes deals with the media companies, and sports outlets to post their stuff. Why Viacom is the hold out right now along with the billion dollar lawsuit needs to be watched by anyone with a Web 2.0 or Web 3.0 mind set. The security implications are also there in the control of intellectual property.

While information security understands unregulated user content is bad, and while many sites also have ways of regulating user content, YouTube and others like it seem to still not have gotten the idea of the same thing. That is what makes this so interesting in the longer run, what we understand we act on, what we do not understand we won’t act on. We know that unregulated user content is dangerous, Web 2.0 needs to learn the same lesson that we learned in Web 1.0.

Public Affairs via Web 2.0
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About Dan Morrill
Dan Morrill runs Techwag, a site all about his views on social media, education, technology, and some of the more interesting things that happen on the internet. He works at CityU of Seattle as the Program Director for the Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Security educational programs. WebProNews Writer
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