Watching YouTube and YourRights

You’ve heard about the sale. You’ve seen the videos. You’ve been told how easy it is to upload your own work. What happens, though, when in your excitement to share a video clip you forget about that pesky issue of ownership?

In a way, YouTube’s success was built on illegal postings. The NBC television network demanded that clips from one of its shows, “Saturday Night Live,” be taken down, since the network owned the show along with reproduction, rebroadcast, and re-use. As the story played out, YouTube received a lot of attention; Saturday Night Live received a lot of attention; and, the video clips became even more popular. (Another proof of the old show biz adage: There’s no such thing as bad publicity.)

We recently posted a story on Jonathan Miller, along with a blog invitation — a free hotel room to help facilitate his next production. In the blog, we had a link to YouTube to see a sample of Miller’s work with Beyond the Fringe. Soon after letting his representative know about the blog invitation, guess what: the material on YouTube was taken off the site for a Terms of Use violation. It appears as though a copyright holder complained. (Currently, you can still see video clips of Beyond the Fringe on YouTube; however, not the ones that include Jonathan Miller.)

This past summer, a journalist filed a suit against YouTube after seeing clips of his own video footage (from the riots in Los Angeles in 1992) on the site. What’s YouTube to do?

Simple: YouTube removes clips when notified of a copyright violation. (Last Friday, 29,000 videos were taken down after Japanese media companies noted infringements.) When served with a subpoena, YouTube will provide identification information of the person who posted a clip to the rightful owner of the copyright. In other words, if you don’t read and honor YouTube’s user agreement, you are the one who is going to be sued by the copyright owner.

This is as it should be. Artists have enough troubles that no one deserves to have someone rip off their work. Still, for the most part the system works incredibly well. After all, YouTube can be a phenomenal resource for research, artistry, and just plain fun.

How amazingly revolutionary web based social communities can be. The web continues to grow and expand based on individual honesty. Consider all the postings, links, and exchanges that take place on the web everyday, everywhere. With all of that traffic we are all building a interconnected community that relies on responsible individual expression. A kind of utopia? (After all, the etymology of “utopia” is no plus place or land: the web is no place or land.)

Not too bad when we think of KadmusArts as playing a part to build utopia: you bring the food, we’ll bring the artists. (And, just maybe, Jonathan Miller will bring some of his funniest clips from Beyond the Fringe.)

- Bill Reichblum

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One Response to “Watching YouTube and YourRights”

  1. jeff (YouTubeic)
    February 17th, 2009 05:37

    Thank you for such a great topic. I have learned a lot by reading on this website and very good information.

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