YouTube Obeys The Law
By: David Utter
When faced with a legal request for information about a filmmaker who uploaded an amateur 12-minute video based on a leaked script for the Paramount film "Twin Towers," YouTube handed over the data.
If the major Hollywood players had any fears over YouTube's $1.65 billion retreat into Google's fold, those fears evaporated with the resolution of the case of Chris Moukarbel. Ars Technica recounted the end of the case:
The real surprise here is how much idealism YouTube has inspired in people, people who convinced themselves that ripping off a script to a major Hollywood film and releasing a different version onto the Internet was somehow a legitimate venture, and that YouTube would stand up for the right to do it. They did not. It doesn't mean that they sold out or "went corporate" (all of this happened before Google was interested). It simply means they followed the law.
Following the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act meant handing over enough data to let Paramount track down Moukarbel for causing "great and irreparable injury that cannot be fully compensated or measured in money."
That's an interesting contention regarding about the usage of 12 minutes of dialog from Paramount, which is part of Viacom (VIA.B); the company has a market cap of $27.5 billion and will pay its former CEO Tom Freston $84.8 million in severance and other compensation for firing him on Labor Day this year.
Hollywood accounting is a funny business anyway, so maybe Moukarbel should be flattered that his work drew more anger from Viacom than Freston's golden parachute did. Moukarbel's comments on the incident may be more of an indicator of YouTube's future than Paramount's action, though.
Moukarbel told MarketWatch in an interview that YouTube's actions signaled to him the end of an era for the video site.
"I was happy to utilize YouTube when it was still not clearly established. It felt a bit utopian, even though the days for that were clearly numbered," Moukarbel said.
YouTube is not going to be an enabler for copyright abuse, not with so many eyes on it now. But users of the video sharing site may wonder why such requests don't receive a challenge from YouTube or Google over the same fair use provisions that Google cites every time its indexing practices are challenged.
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