Sutphin Essay 2

Essay Two: YouTube should check uploaded videos for copyright infringement

“Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts or commercials without permission unless they consist entirely of content you created yourself.”

-YouTube’s Terms of Service


There is no doubting YouTube’s insane popularity. However, problems all too easily arrive once millions of people begin using it. One of those big issues concerns copyright, and the money lost and gained by users and legal copyright users.

YouTube does not view videos before they are posted online. In order for a video to be removed, the actual copyright holder must issue a takedown notice under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA is the major legislation regarding copyright in the digital age. It consists of penalties for copyright violators and limits the liability of online services that provide platforms for content. It also contains stipulations for fair use, meaning that people can use a certain percent of copyrighted material for their use without being penalized.

Viacom-YouTube Lawsuit

"There is no question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take the fruit of our efforts without permission and destroying enormous value in the process."

In 2007, Viacom sued YouTube for $1 billion in damages due to copyright infringement. Viacom also wants an injunction to prevent future “massive intentional copyright infringement.” Viacom claims that YouTube had hundreds of thousands of its clips uploaded to its site with billions of views.

YouTube, which was acquired by Google in 2006, maintains that they have followed all copyright laws and cannot be held accountable for the uploading of illegal material.

Unfortunately, there is so much name-calling in this lawsuit that the real issue at hand is being lost – YouTube needs to screen its content before or soon after a video is posted. Before Google bought YouTube, it ran its own video-hosting site, Google Video. Google Video did have a copyright-screening tool, which makes me think Google did care about copyright infringement at one point. Why would they not screen content for an acquired service where they would for one they created?

YouTube Video Identification Beta

“YouTube Video Identification will be available to all kinds of copyright holders all over the world, whether they want their content to appear on YouTube or not.”

-YouTube, Google Blog

Along with Google, YouTube has created a tool to address some of its copyright problems. Its Video ID tool is currently in beta mode, and will create a sort of database of copyrighted material, and will recognize when a user uploads that material illegally.

However, YouTube is not really doing this out of a legal obligation or even a sense of what is right. Upon identifying copyrighted material, YouTube will contact the copyright owner and encourage them to form a partnership with YouTube to monetize the situation. YouTube claims that they are going “well above and beyond their legal responsibilities.” I think YouTube and Google are just trying to capitalize on content they neither produce nor have legal rights to.

This system will also not be effective with massive copyright holders such as Viacom. If hundreds of thousands of videos were illegally uploaded, would they contact Viacom about every single one? It is costing copyright holders, especially large ones, a lot of money to remove and manage its content on a website it has no relation to.

Kravets, David. “Accusations Fly in Vicaom, YouTube Copyright Fight.”

“Viacom will sue YouTube for $1bn.” BBC News.

“YouTube Should Check Copyright.” BBC News.

“YouTube Video Identification Beta.”

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