Universal's Grokster is showing

Universal's Grokster is showing

Summary: Reuters and other outlets are reporting that yesterday Universal Music Group Chief Executive Doug Morris had these fighting words for MySpace and YouTube: We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars. .


Reuters and other outlets are reporting that yesterday Universal Music Group Chief Executive Doug Morris had these fighting words for MySpace and YouTube:

We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars. . . .

How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly.

Morris went on to cite MTV as a multi-billion dollar company the music industry mistakenly and shortsightedly bootstrapped by providing free promotional videos.

A few thoughts:

  • Quite a negotiating tactic, as MySpace and YouTube attempt to strike deals with the music industry.
  • Does anyone think MTV was anything but a boon to music sales?
  • Hearing the MGM v. Grokster saber rattled concerning YouTube is no big surprise, but since when is MySpace a big hotbed of infringement?  Granted I'm only an occasional visitor, but my impression is just the opposite — the music I've seen there is included on a voluntary, legal, and authorized basis, and as I discussed earlier today MySpace is poised to take commercial advantage of precisely this fact.

Topic: Social Enterprise

Denise Howell

About Denise Howell

Denise Howell is an appellate, intellectual property and technology lawyer who enjoys broad industry recognition for her expertise on the intersection of emerging technologies and law.

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  • Myspace and Copyright Infringement

    Myspace is indeed a cesspool of copyright infringement, of all the cases of infringement of my own work I track, Myspace now makes up almost half of all cases.

    However, it's not music or video that needs to fear the Myspace beast. Ironically most illegal audio or video that comes into the service is from third-party providers.

    Rather, the copyright issues I see on Myspae relate to textual works, especially poetry and other short works, and images, including backgrounds, icons, and even personal photos.

    Granted, in a political sense, these are much smaller worries, but they are still annoying to common Webmasters and other Myspace members.

    Sadly, it seems Myspace is a very fake place and much of that translates into lifting material.
    • Why not target Yahoo and AOL also

      Yahoo bought the free web space provider GeoCities some time ago and AOL has always offered web space.

      Tons of Fanficts (unlicensed derivative texts) on both along with music lyrics, poetry, and lifted photos.

      Even some video and music ends up there also. Heck why not target all web space providers... that's the ticket.
      Edward Meyers
  • Efficient management of copyrighted works

    Actually I?m really anxious to see new independent media arise, whose owners are actually responsive to its customers. It is the content owners who consider how consumers want to use their content, and craft businesses around this, who will be the most successful. I personally believe that content owners should allow users to use their content freely, and rely primarily on money from ads and direct sales of their content for compensation. I believe many copyright holders should take the stance that if consumers want to incorporate copyrighted content into their works, they need only reference the copyright holder in their works. (The amateur works are after all free advertising for the copyright holder.) Also if a copyrighted work such as a video incorporates other copyrighted work, then someone who wants to create commercial grade content should be able negotiate with holders of the first copyrighted work alone, and not have to deal with a slew of copyright holders whose works are contained in the first copyrighted work. In fact, I wouldn?t be surprised that the copyright holders who generally make the most money, are the ones who simply require in many cases, users (both amateur and professional) of their content, to electronically reference the copyright holder in their works, so that customers of the users? content, can go and get a free ad supported version of the embedded content, or buy a premium version of the embedded content.
    P. Douglas
    • Also ...

      ... I guess it would be a great idea for copyright holders to incorporate into their licenses, the option of being able to veto the use of their works in other works they find objectionable.
      P. Douglas
  • Recording industry has a massive problem...that they caused.

    The commentary by Morris citing;

    ?MTV as a multi-billion dollar company the music industry mistakenly and shortsightedly bootstrapped by providing free promotional videos?

    Borders on being one of the most ludicrous two faced comments I have read in quite some time. Anyone who was around when music videos first found regular play on network television, quite some time before MTV was born, knows that it was an incredible boon to the music industry and there is no indication that it is anything less then that today.

    When the music industry distributes free promotional videos to television stations like MTV they get what amounts to free advertising for their product with the television station taking the related risks of producing a television show that will turn a profit. How else does the music industry propose they accomplish the task? Start up their own music video stations? Of course each music producer is only going to broadcast their own music, and then the competition between stations/producers is going to mean that your station may not get watched at all if you are not currently producing one of the top 4 or 5 songs at that point, but a station like MTV shows all, so every music producer has an opportunity to have their music video seen by a broad audience.

    I?ll tell you where the music industry really showed a short sightedness out of sheer greed. When they opted for the CD format. This was an unbelievably cheap way to introduce digital quality sound to the public, and charge over the top prices for a very inexpensive format to produce. In the early 80?s they had no impending fear that digital reproduction by the general public of a music CD was going to be easy or cheap to do for some time, and the profits to be made off a CD you could charge $20 or more for in the mid 80?s was so obscene I guess they figured it was worth the inevitable future problems with copyright infringement they had to have know was likely to eventually occur. If they didn?t know that CD burners and internet sharing would eventually be pervasive they had to be idiots as many people who were only computer science students in the 80?s were already talking about CD burners and network sharing even as the CD format was being adopted by the music industry.

    But they didn?t care, the profits to be made were obviously insane considering they had been selling vinyl LP?s for $5.99 or less at the time and the opportunity to jack prices up to $20+ for a CD that was only going to be cheaper and easier to produce in very short order was like a dream come true for the music industry. Particularly as music video on television was now common place and driving the interest in purchasing music to new highs.

    Now we fast forward to today, and what they knew all along would eventually happen has happened. And they want no part of paying the price for the greedy practices they decided to follow back in the mid 80?s. There was always music copying, taping was common place a long long time ago, and people shared their music freely in the past and the music industry had always known this and had accepted it and let it go. And they knew for a fact that there was no reason why this wouldn?t continue and be effected through whatever technological means that would be available in the future. And because they wanted those obscene profits they didn?t care, I guess they figured they would just cross that bridge when they got to it.

    Now the bridge has been crossed and the music industry has lost its mind completely. They want to change what has virtually become human nature over the decades, perhaps even centuries, and that is the human desire to copy or share what they own with others. The media industry has gone mad, to the point of feeling justified in installing root kits on personal computers and suing members of the public who are doing exactly what members of the public have done in one form or another, unmolested, for as long as anyone alive can remember.

    The music and media industry brought this whole mess unto themselves through greed and shortsightedness and now they want to take the error of their ways out on the public. The bad news for them is that I do not believe there is any known way to change such ingrained human nature such as the human desire to be able to copy and share what they own if they so desire. Of course we are not talking about setting up shop and ?SELLING? cheap copies at a profit. It also seems quite evident that most people also understand that there would be something inherently wrong with that, but doing it for free? Humans have always done this and no amount of pressure of any kind can change that kind of ingrained human nature without many many decades or more of serious pressure, and as bad as the media industry have been, they have exerted comparatively ?NO? pressure of significance on a human population of 7 billion people. And that means so far they have actually accomplished absolute zero.
    • It is worse than you think

      They did complain when DAT came out. They lobbied congress and got the AHRA passed.

      The AHRA requires copy control technology that allows a 1 generation copy in digital recording devices. Digital recorders and media is also suppose to carry a royalty. In return digital recorders are specifically not banned if they follow the rules and consumers can not be held for copyright infringement for making their own non-commercial recordings of music. This was signed into law in 1992.

      They didn't hit the tech companies up to include Serial Copy Management System but rather asked them to include DRM which could be used to prevent any copies at all and introduced the precursor to the DMCA, it was much more sided towards the right holders than the DMCA is, to prevent circumvention of DRM schemes (They called them TPM schemes then). This all began in 1993 and the Green Paper was released in 1994 followed by the White Paper in 1995- The White paper didn't thrill congress by the way, the chief criticism was that it leaned way to heavily towards the right holders, destroying fair use and other rights such as doctrine of first sale long held by consumers, and tended to protect "investment" rather than promote "creativity".

      This didn't stop them though. After congress gave it a mixed welcome they sent this turkey over to WIPO where the US delegate pushed for amendments.

      This came back to the US congress and it still faced stiff debate but complying with the "new" WIPO treaty was used to pass it despite the fact that said amendments were introduced and pushed mostly by the US delegates.

      In short after getting one bill passed instead of waiting to see the effect it would have they lobbied immediately to pass a bill that circumvents the bill they just got passed.

      When the new bills looked like it would not pass easily through congress they pushed said contents of the same bill to WIPO then lobbied to re-introduce the same bill but with additional force behind it of the new treaty that they lobbied to have amended in the first place.
      Edward Meyers
  • FanVideos

    [i]the music I've seen there is included on a voluntary, legal, and authorized basis, and as I discussed earlier today MySpace is poised to take commercial advantage of precisely this fact.[/i]

    It's not the music files being offered voluntarily, as YouTube is Video only, that they take issue with but rather it's all part of the new crack down on lip-synching teen fan videos.

    Actually some of lip-synchers aren't teens but are older and in some cases they make video game characters synch with the music.

    YouTube's distribution of content as best as I can tell is;

    5% Legally posted professional content including informational videos from the EFF and campaign ads.... Oh yeah also that Paris Hilton stuff.
    10% Original amature content- humorous original animated videos, home-made teenage angst videos, creative artsy videos like the one where the girl photographed herself over a period of several years, self-taped guitar rock remixes of classical music, vanity videos where ordinary looking people pretend they are super models, in various states of dress/or undress-depends how you look at it, self taped athletic feats mostly bike jumps and skateboard tricks, etc... etc..
    10% Animals... cats running in wheels and knocking things off TVs- dogs chasing their own tails.
    10% People acting stupid... drunk frat boys and other drunken antics.
    5% Public domain videos including old government public service announcements.
    5% VLogs -Video web logs like "Ask a Ninja",which is somewhat amusing.
    10% Parodies-including potty mouthed vulgar parodies of children TV shows and vulgar potty mouthed flash animated parodies of pop culture.
    15% Lip-synched Fan Videos.
    10% Video game mash-ups where they make the characters dance and lip-synch to something.
    10% Video Mash-ups where they mash-up multiple videos together with a new sound track to create a new work.
    5% illegally re-broadcasted/broadcasted US TV shows, videophone captured sporting events, and video phone captured live band performance.
    5% illegal Fansubs... they tape the TV off the air in foreign countries, mostly Japan, do their own subtitles, and then post it.

    -feel free to disagree with that break-down
    Edward Meyers
    • Yep

      Thanks, since posting this I've been pointed to lots of YouTube-esque content on MySpace, and I see what you're saying. Still, not the first thing I think of when someone says MySpace and music.
      Denise Howell