I like to believe that people are mostly honest and that sometimes, they just need a bit of education. Apparently, Google feels the same way.
Even though the courts ruled in Google's favor in last year's YouTube-Viacom dispute over copyright infringement, the company has taken steps to further curb copyright violations on the video site by requiring offenders to receive some education - and pass a test - if they'd like to return to the site.
Certainly, this isn't something that Google was required to do. Last year's ruling found that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was working "efficiently," noting that YouTube was complying with takedown notices from copyright holders when informed of violations.
Google noted in a post on the YouTube blog that it is committed to "protecting original creative works" and wants to promote good behavior by its users. Here's the key excerpt from the YouTube blog post:
Because copyright law can be complicated, education is critical to ensure that our users understand the rules and continue to play by them. That’s why today we’re releasing a new tutorial on copyright and a redesigned copyright help center. We’re also making two changes to our copyright process to be sure that our users understand the rules, and that users who abide by those rules can remain active on the site. If we receive a copyright notification for one of your videos, you’ll now be required to attend “YouTube Copyright School,” which involves watching a copyright tutorial and passing a quiz to show that you’ve paid attention and understood the content before uploading more content to YouTube.
Personally, I think it's a noble move on the part of Google. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to educate a few friends and family members about copyright, mostly parents who were putting themselves at legal risk because they didn't know that their kids were downloading music tracks over peer-to-peer networks.
Certainly many of those kids who were downloading music and videos from the family computer didn't know - for whatever reason - that what they were doing was illegal either. That's why Google's announcement today is so important - it's meant to educate the violators.
Instead of filing suits against parents to send a message, couldn't they have spent more money on educational campaigns that targeted families that didn't know any better?
Because, in the end, I've got to believe that people are mostly honest. And if people had known that what they were doing is wrong, maybe they wouldn't have done it. And that's really what the recording industry has been seeking all along, right?