This is actually amazing. A talk on what YouTube does with copyright and how they view it, from TED. It’s interesting, and there are two things in there to watch. Note, that I caught this link from Jeff Atwood (@CodingHorror) on his blog.
The first thing is that YouTube scans over 100 years of video every day. 100 years! That’s freaking amazing. That is an incredible amount of video processing that’s taking place, and a low of power being spent to enforce copyright. Forget about the legal issues for a minute and think about the technology. That is just amazing.
The second thing in the talk is that content owners can, and are choosing, to not block this content, but rather use it to generate some benefits from them. They ought to be able to receive some benefits, and I agree, but knocking down some kid’s video because he used a copyrighted song seems silly. Especially as in the case of the wedding video, you never know what will go viral and what benefits you’ll get. Including selling more copies of your stuff.
However the thing that worries me is that we are now not looking out for Fair Use. If a copyright holder wants to block their content, can we still get our 30sec of use of it in a video we make? Or a mashup?
The copyright office doesn’t necessarily define the fair use guidelines, but I think they need to. We ought to have some idea of what portion of audio, video, imagery, and text can be used, with citation. Even with automatic citation, that may benefit the copyright holder.
We publish books here through Simple Talk Publishing. We typically offer books for free as marketing materials here on the site, and also sell them on Amazon and other retailers. Regularly I find these republished, or even for sale, on the Internet on other sites. I understand people wanting to share, but ultimately it’s a problem for us if all our books become too widely distributed for free. I know there are a lot of debates on piracy, and I’m not completely sure where I stand. I don’t actively worry about piracy, but I do act to have things removed when I find it.
We need to do something here to both protect the copyright holders, but also allow people to reuse ideas and build on them. I certainly wouldn’t mind someone republishing portions of my work, or building their own knowledge publications based on it, just don’t wholesale copy what I’ve done without giving me any credit.
I think YouTube has a good balance here, though I’d like to see more efforts from content owners to share and allow others to build on their work.