So I’m on the Twitters yesteray, and I see that Greg Laden has a new post up: “Is Scripps News Service out of control?” *click*
If corporations are people, there is an argument that Scripps News Service should have a restraining order placed on it. The news service repeatedly took down the hourly postings by NASA, made by NASA, on the NASA YouTube channel, because they thought somehow, by mistake, that NASA was violating Scripps News Service’s rights. Later, Scripps News Service apologized, but that is not enough. No apology can undo the fact that an ongoing real time event was repeatedly disrupted by what can only be seen as a grave error.
YouTube needs to fix its Copyright Robot, the Congress and similar agencies worldwide have to fix Copyright law, and Scripps News Service needs to start wearing an ankle bracelet.
If the videos were being taken down immediately from NASA’s page, that means Scripps (which subscribes to YouTube’s Content ID system) was marking the videos as proprietary as they uploaded them to their channel. What content ID does is compare videos (especially videos getting lots of hits) to videos that have been registered in YouTube’s database of protected content. If there is a match, the allegedly infringing video is removed (I’ve had it happen to me more than once). There was enough of the same content to match with NASA’s videos (which had probably already been uploaded), so they were automatically yanked until NASA said “HEY WTF PUBLIC DOMAIN.” This means that Greg Laden is right about Google’s “copyright robot,” but along with his focus on Scripps, is a problematic and internally inconsistent failure to express the the situation (the one thing he does get right is mention copyright law, and even that isn’t quite right).
To put it simply, this was not “a grave error.” Put down the pitchforks and torches, and I will explain.
There is a law called the DMCA which spells out specific remedies against copyright infringement, and specific ways to counter such claims (as well as lots of other things, but yanno). YouTube processes content on such a colossal scale that they absolutely have to automate the content control process or hire a whole shitload more lawyers, to the point of making YouTube massively unprofitable (because larger content providers would refuse to play if Content ID did not exist). No Content ID, no DMCA compliance, no big-name content providers, no anywhere-near-profitable YouTube. Got it so far?
So this not an error, it is an unintended result of a political goal (keep copyright power in the hands of those who can afford the best lawyers) that was translated into law and policy (the DMCA) which is enforced by a corporate system that is working exactly as intended.
So don’t bitch at Scripps about this (but feel free to write them a letter saying you’re unhappy with it, they may publish it or note that their customers are unhappy). Don’t bitch to YouTube, either (but feel free to tell them you’re taking action, but actually do it). Send some angry mail to the RIAA and MPAA (and spend as little as possible on their products, also, Fuck Disney). You want them to know that the DMCA is an unwieldy, intrusive, and unproductive system that is messing with your productivity and enjoyment of multimedia, and you know that they’re responsible for it. Hand write a letter to your congresscritters (or e-mail if you’re in a hurry, but hand-written is better), and donate to the EFF and ACLU.
This is a huge political problem, so treat it like one. An ill-aimed blog post isn’t going to do a damn thing (unless the only purpose was to vent his outrage at the world, which I can respect).