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Proposal: YouTube Amnesty Bill

I think Congress should pass a bill that basically protects any youtube content from copyright suit or governmental interference. Dedicate it as a "Free speech zone" so long as there is zero editorial oversight, other than perhaps privacy matters.

Youtube is such a powerful force in protecting the underdog - whistleblowers, journalists, anyone who wants to shine a bright light under rocks - that it deserves protection from attempts to silence it purely for protection from prosecution or public lambasting.

Yes Youtube is a private entity; baseball has been protected from antitrust actions by law for decades, so it's doable.

Thoughts?
Permalink Send private email Philo 
July 30th, 2007 12:53pm
People should own the content they create. You can't steal it and then make laws saying stealing is OK.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 30th, 2007 12:57pm
...why?

Whistleblowers, journalists, private content producers have nothing to do with copyright suits. Copyright legislation already includes limits for acceptable use of someone else's content in your work (parody, cultural reference, whatever).

As for governmental interference, that's already been legislated over 200 years ago in your country, as freedom of speech. The fact that your government chooses not to enforce this particular bit of legislation in many significant cases is a different sort of problem.
Permalink Send private email Flasher T 
July 30th, 2007 1:00pm
I never understood why baseball should be protected by antitrust law. What makes it so special?

Likewise what makes youtube so special?
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 1:01pm
"Copyright legislation already includes limits for acceptable use of someone else's content in your work (parody, cultural reference, whatever)."

Yeah, not so much anymore. Touch a corporation's copyrighted content and expect a C&D that you're going to have to fight in court.

What makes youtube so special is that it has become a de facto creative commons, as well as a haven for content that cannot be seen anywhere else. Add that the ten minute limitation and tiny resolution means it's not a great avenue for real copyright infringement and I don't have a problem with a "don't bother suing over content on youtube" law.

People who are willing to watch Lord of the Rings at 240x320 in ten minute bites aren't going to buy the DVD's anyway.
Permalink Send private email Philo 
July 30th, 2007 1:18pm
"Yeah, not so much anymore. Touch a corporation's copyrighted content and expect a C&D that you're going to have to fight in court."

So change the way copyright is enforced. Make it a burden on the plaintiff to show that the suit is based on reasonable damage and doesn't before allowing to sue, if the plaintiff is a legal entity with a declared revenue higher than some level.

"What makes youtube so special is that it has become a de facto creative commons, as well as a haven for content that cannot be seen anywhere else."

Oh balls. Most content that people really want to see but don't want to pay for is available on torrents. To make a branch of Google the guardian of human cultural product in FLV format is simply pointless.

If you've got a fundamentally sound piece of legislation but for broken enforcement, then you need to fix its enforcement, not pass a marginally different law and say "well we're definitely going to enforce THIS one!".
Permalink Send private email Flasher T 
July 30th, 2007 1:41pm
Yeah, this idea sucks. It's an attempted fix for broken legislation. It's sticky plaster legislation. Only it's sticky plaster that leaves a rash.
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 1:44pm
> What makes youtube so special is that it has become a de facto creative commons

So if I go to your house, take all your goods, and bring it to a big warehouse where I have stolen goods from millions of others, you want to call it a creative commons?

If I made something it's mine. You can argue it's more sensible for me to set it free, but it's not your say. It's mine. And it's stealing to say otherwise.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 30th, 2007 1:58pm
SoP, that was an analogy bad enough to make baby Jesus cry.
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 2:06pm
> that was an analogy bad enough to make baby Jesus cry.

Jesus is also displeased with your inability to say why.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 30th, 2007 2:08pm
By stealing goods from your house I am denying you the ability to access the. By "stealing" your intellectual property I am not denying you access to them.

Very, very, very simple stuff.
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 2:11pm
Why does google get a unique (as in unique to them) free pass to make money from this stuff?  Baseball may have a unique pass, but it's a different unique pass in another area of law and business (which IMHO is probably unjustifiable, but I've never considered it in any detail).

It much better to simply say use of material for legitimate commentary, criticism, news, education, public interest, etc., BY ANYBODY, ON ANY WEB SITE, receives certain public interest protections. Let's called it, er, "fair use"!

(Suggestion: A more intelligent discussion might be about whether the fair use rules should be wider or different, or just more clearly defined).
Permalink s 
July 30th, 2007 2:12pm
> By stealing goods from your house I am denying you the ability to access them ...

Luckily not everyone's a material girl.
Permalink heartsheep 
July 30th, 2007 2:13pm
> By stealing goods from your house I am denying you the ability to access the. By "stealing" your intellectual property I am not denying you access to them.

> Very, very, very simple stuff.


You don't understand what intellectual property (or copyright in this case) is.

Copyright is the exclusive right to control copying, preparation of derivative works, etc..

The property is that exclusive control. The property is not the making of copies.

So, when you take somebody's copyright you ARE taking away something that they had.

A good analogy might be owning a house.  One of the rights in owning a house is the right to charge rents, choose who you allow to stay in it, etc.  However, if you enter my house without my permission, maybe even rent it out to a tenant without my knowledge (pretending you are the owner etc.),  I haven't lost the house, I've still got the title to the house... but you have usurped my rights.
Permalink s 
July 30th, 2007 2:17pm
The owning a house analogy was better, yes.
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 2:26pm
"Copyright is the exclusive right to control copying, preparation of derivative works, etc.."

Copyright is the exclusive right to make make money, to the extent that anybody cares. So while there's certainly *some* damage being done by YouTube, it's far more stupid to go down the Microsoft road of NumPiratedInstalls*RetailFullPrice=Damages. How is Viacom losing money if I watch the Daily Show on YouTube, if Comedy Central doesn't cyndicate to my area and I couldn't watch it with ads even if I wanted to? They can't even claim rerun & later cyndication fees because it's a news satire program that's not relevant a year down the line.

There's a website for fans of Top Gear that does torrents for the shows just after they air; the BBC doesn't officially approve, but for the reason that the British public paid for the shows with their license fees and the foreigners downloading torrents didn't. BBC content is available for free download in the UK.
Permalink Send private email Flasher T 
July 30th, 2007 2:27pm
>if Comedy Central doesn't cyndicate to my area

If you can get CNN, you can likely get the international version of the Daily Show.
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 2:28pm
That's true, but it was a convenient example.
Permalink Send private email Flasher T 
July 30th, 2007 2:34pm
> Copyright is the exclusive right to make make money, to the extent that anybody cares

Bullshit. 

Copyright is defined as the right to control copying, derivative works, etc. Yes they may wish to control inorder to make money. But a copyright holder may want control for other reasons too - and it's a still a copyirght.  Copyright is the right to this type of control.  For example what if any modifications (derivative works) are made, and so on. For example, they might not want the children's cartoon character used in a porno.  Or if they're an author, they might not want their book made into a bad movie. Or if they're a band, they don't want their music on a label that they refused to sign with, etc.

Now you can argue till you are blue in the face, about what you think of various company's use of copyright, or whether copyright laws to should be changed - but it doesn't help the debate, or in understanding, if you don't actually know what a copyright is.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000106----000-.html

Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
Permalink s 
July 30th, 2007 2:47pm
*sigh*

You notice the "to the extent that anyone cares" part?

Independent filmmakers aren't the ones sueing YouTube. The only entities caring massively about copyright these days are the big holdings, because small content producers have mostly realized the fact that on the Internet exposure is the first thing you need to have, and if you have enough of it, you can still make money.
Permalink Send private email Flasher T 
July 30th, 2007 3:03pm
*double sigh*

If you want to properly participate in a debate about an issue, you need to at least understand the terminology and terms of reference.  Otherwise you can't even define what it is proposing changing, let alone making a reasoned argument for it.
Permalink s 
July 30th, 2007 4:56pm
>Independent filmmakers aren't the ones sueing YouTube.

They don't have the lawyers. It's debatable whether Viacom will win. An independent filmmaker certainly wouldn't.
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 5:14pm
Hey Philo, the safe harbors thing is sufficient. YouTube can't be sued as long as they remove infringing material upon request. They are also licensing content from all the big players, which is great since that means kids can use big name stuff in their little skits without worrying about licensing, and also there is stuff like GarageBand, whose royalty free sound clips are becoming the official Soundtrack to Youtube.

So, no problem.

What I want to see changed in law if we are going to do that is make it ALWAYS legal in every single state, without any exception at all (none of these bogus 'security' exceptions that are abused for everything), to FILM any sort of police behavior in public that you are observing, or in private that you are participating in.

If you look on youtube, there are lots of police beating videos and the police beat up the photographers whenever they see them and take their cameras 'because it is a felonious violation of state wiretapping laws'. Wiretapping laws are being used by police only for one reason - to stop people from reporting on police abuse.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 6:23pm
>What I want to see changed in law if we are going to do that
>is make it ALWAYS legal in every single state, without any
>exception at all (none of these bogus 'security' exceptions
>that are abused for everything), to FILM any sort of police
>behavior in public that you are observing, or in private
>that you are participating in.

Holy shit! It isn't legal to film the POLICE??

I'm starting to wonder how much longer it is til martial law is declared in the US. It's looking increasingly like if you have one more 9/11 you'll be left with a police state.
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 6:29pm
It somehow does impact the personal safety of the individual policeman.

What can be a compromise is to allow the police permission to confiscate the media, but they must be reviewed by a judge.
Permalink Rick Zeng 
July 30th, 2007 6:39pm
>It somehow does impact the personal safety of the individual
>policeman.

How?
Permalink Send private email Colm 
July 30th, 2007 7:04pm
The police argue that revealing the identity of a police officer may be a threat to his safety. That's if you couldn't figure it out from the blue suit, gun on his hip, big car with flashing lights, or his foot on the back of your neck.

Because this argument only EVER comes up when someone is filming police brutality. You almost never hear about it when someone is just filming cops walking around.

And that was one of the aspects of protecting Youtube I was thinking about. Another is the possibility that Rupert Murdoch wants to target Youtube (both as a commercial threat and as a liberal threat) and "take it down". Obviously he has the power to do that if every News Corp property sues Youtube every time they find any infringing or damaging material on it.
Permalink Send private email Philo 
July 30th, 2007 7:25pm
Well, how about gang members could get hold of the people who are responsible for arresting their boss?

It's like publishing the photos of doctors who perform abortions.
Permalink Rick Zeng 
July 30th, 2007 7:29pm
A few weeks ago, I heard shouts of "get a picture, get a picture, police brutality, get a picture" outside my window so I peaked out. There were about 3 cop cars and a couple of cops manhandling a guy on the street. That is, he was down and they were sorta wrestling him to handcuff him. There were about 2 dozen onlookers (I'd say almost all under 25) and the other 4 cops were mainly keeping a perimeter.

I all happened rather quickly. They arrestee was cuffed and led into a police car (to join his buddy who had not put up resistance) and the cops dispersed and opened up the street (6 lane boulevard). Must admit from what I saw, it all seemed rather professionally executed. Quick. And the cops didn't engage or shout back at the onlookers. One of the cop cars was an undercover taxi which I had never seen before (why not? they're both the same make it seems).

I don't know how much was video taped but there were at least 30 flashes from cameras all around the onlookers and from the buildings.
Permalink strawdog soubriquet 
July 30th, 2007 8:47pm
"Holy shit! It isn't legal to film the POLICE??"

It depends on the state. It is definitely illegal to film the police beating someone in Illinois for example. They have a really restrictive wiretapping law and some lawyers have pointed out that it essentially makes it illegal to make home movies in the state, or commercial movies without a closed set, and it's technically even illegal for court reporters to record the court like they do in other states. Journalists interviewing people in Illinois often have to resort to written notes only.

There are other states as well, but those guys on the peace march have documented the troubles they've had in Illinois. In Kansas they were interrogated, harassed and threatened with arrest for sitting and eating a sandwich in a public park. And in Indiana they were arrested and thrown in jail for not carrying government ID, apparently in Indiana it is illegal to be out in public without official identity papers with you. The Indiana police were unique in confiscating their camera and erasing their tapes 'accidentally' before they were released from jail.

They have a lot of this on film, but some of the Illinois film was taken down from their site because the police told them they'd be arrested if they didn't. Those clips were saved by people and put up on youtube though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzKoioumSXI

Here's a case in new orleans where the police obstruct an actual news photographer, then beat teh crap out of another cameraman and try to take his camera:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc9QpcTXt4U
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 10:23pm
In addition to audio recordings of police abuse being illegal in many states, there are cases of claims that visual photography of police abuse is illegal as well, though there seems to be no statutory basis for this. Here's a recent article via reddit today about the abuse of power:

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/cont/node/3020

Link I feel is relevant to that story:

http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/civilrights/color.htm
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 11:35pm
and this:

http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/civilrights/statutes.htm#section242

Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242
Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law
This statute makes it a crime for any person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived from any person those rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S.

This law further prohibits a person acting under color of law, statute, ordinance, regulation or custom to willfully subject or cause to be subjected any person to different punishments, pains, or penalties, than those prescribed for punishment of citizens on account of such person being an alien or by reason of his/her color or race.

Acts under "color of any law" include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the bounds or limits of their lawful authority, but also acts done without and beyond the bounds of their lawful authority; provided that, in order for unlawful acts of any official to be done under "color of any law," the unlawful acts must be done while such official is purporting or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. This definition includes, in addition to law enforcement officials, individuals such as Mayors, Council persons, Judges, Nursing Home Proprietors, Security Guards, etc., persons who are bound by laws, statutes ordinances, or customs.

Punishment varies from a fine or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, and if bodily injury results or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire shall be fined or imprisoned up to ten years or both, and if death results, or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 30th, 2007 11:38pm

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