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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Corporations Will Monetize Public Content

There have been speculations online for a while now that multinational corporations are trying to profit from the public domain content by claiming that they own it. Google already showed its “hospitality” by implementing so-called “ContentID”, a service designed to protect copyright holders by letting them to upload the content they own – this is supposed to become a kind of a signature as the proprietors of those works. Online service then can find files that seem related to the copyrighted ones.

After this, the copyright owners can either require Google to automatically delete the infringing files or decide to “monetize” it by asking the company to display advertisements every time it is played back, thus generating income for the copyright owners. Once Google finds files that seem to be protected by copyright law, it would notify the uploaders that their content is subject of a copyright match and provides them with the chance to file a contestation.

The trouble is that such service isn’t actually legal itself, because it exceeds the boundaries and requirements regarding copyright. YouTube and other services are ensured a “safe harbor” provision under the DMCA, which puts them out of reach over responsibility for copyright violation. Meanwhile, the duty of the streaming services is to respond quickly to notices of copyright violation sent by rights holders by deleting the infringing material. Nevertheless, the main problem is that under current legislation YouTube isn’t mandated to search for infringing content and remove it.

In other words, ContentID isn’t exactly a service the company is legitimately bound to operate – in fact, it just demonstrates the power of the entertainment industry and how nothing gets done without their involvement. Nevertheless, more and more media conglomerates like Viacom are complaining about Google not doing enough in looking for and deleting the copyrighted works. Moreover, Viacom demands that Google do all the searching and removing without any prior notification.

Finally, the local media pointed to another crucial issue regarding ContentID that gets overlooked with: the use of the service by those who falsely assert ownership over public domain works that in reality have no copyright at all, and consequently either remove the content, or collect the revenue from it.

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