Who Should Police The Internet?
On the one side owners of content protected by copyright argue that sites, which aid copyright infringement and actively profit from advertising should be responsible. On the other side, companies like, Google/Youtube and others state it is the responsibility of content owners to police their sites and notify them with takedown notices.
Hold on a second, so even though you’ve built a site that allows your users to actively breach copyrighted content you have no responsibility? Your site makes money from advertising whether that be, on content that is cleared or not off copyright infringement? Sounds a little like having your cake, icing and eating it as well to TMV.
Lets drill down a little further, advertisers pay peanuts to advertise on user generated content sites even though some of these i.e. Youtube generate most their traffic from copyright protected content. Yet copyrighted ‘Premium’ content sites manage to generate in some cases, more than 10 times the cpm’s of UGC based sites.
So can it not be argued firstly that UGC based sites are in fact devaluing content owners “premium” content? And secondly how is it morally right that you can run a business over servers that you own or lease, and that your business is not responsible for policing the content uploaded to the site that is your business responsibility in terms of taxation and profits?
As proven by the fact that Youtube’s lead product manager openly states that “probably 75-80% of our views come from copyrighted material” – yet they generally only receive 1/10 of potential advertising cpm’s as advertisers will not pay ‘premium content rates’ for advertising on UGC sites. TMV would argue that it is this devaluation of content by UCG sites that do not police their networks for copyrighted material should in actual fact be liable for.
It is clear that Universal Music Group set up Vevo to attempt to stem this flow of valuable advertising cpm rates away from “premium” copyrighted material. As previously stated by TMV, a major independent label noted that each month they were given reams of paper in fact over 16000 pages of it by Google on a monthly basis whereby they have to read every page and get back to Google with what content they want taken down.
Obviously for independent labels, little own major labels in terms of human resources such a task is quite simply NOT viable. Which TMV believes is exactly why Google et al operates in such a manner. Yet content owners are not technology companies, to develop spiders that creep through Google analysing content would mean content owners were in certain circumstances breaching Youtube patents.
Technology companies rely on content companies to be able to continually produce content. Without content Google/Youtube are quite frankly zero value businesses. Youtube/Google own their own networks that their businesses operate on and as such should in TMVs view, be liable to police them for unlicensed copyrighted material.
As reported in the Guardian watch out for the censorship likely to occur with cloud computing: “The attack of WikiLeaks also ought to be a wake-up call for anyone who has rosy fantasies about whose side cloud computing providers are on. These are firms like Google, Flickr, Facebook, Myspace and Amazon which host your blog or store your data on their servers somewhere on the internet, or which enable you to rent “virtual” computers – again located somewhere on the net. The terms and conditions under which they provide both “free” and paid-for services will always give them grounds for dropping your content if they deem it in their interests to do so. The moral is that you should not put your faith in cloud computing – one day it will rain on your parade.”
The issue at hand is greater than any one business. It is about principal and the rule of law. However, it is also imperative that usage of such sites is not a free-for-all, where the criminals also include the people who own the actual access to UCG and premium content.
If you own a block of land it is generally your responsibility to police what goes on within the confines of your property. Furthermore, you are still responsible as that property owner to ensure no laws set by government are breached within the confines of your block of land. In TMV’s view, it is this principal that should also apply to access gateways to the Internet superhighway.
Following from this, legislators pass laws and whether you own a business that provides private user access, whether as an individual or corporate entity, you have a legal duty of care to ensure that those laws passed by your government are upheld. Attempting to shirk that responsibility is a grave slight against the very society your business operates in – little own the fact your family live in.
For businesses to use the red herring defence of privacy enshrined in “freedom” when defending their legal positions, the recent actions of Amazon, Paypal and others in respect of Wikileaks demonstrates complete duplicity and the hollowness of such a defence.