Mark Cuban says Google is crazy with YouTube

Mark Cuban says Google is crazy with YouTube

Summary: Mark Cuban has spoken out on Google's acquisition of YouTube and thinks Google is crazy and has landed itself in a field of litigation landmines.  Cuban was quoted last month saying that only a "moron" would purchase YouTube and he may have a point.


Mark Cuban has spoken out on Google's acquisition of YouTube and thinks Google is crazy and has landed itself in a field of litigation landmines.  Cuban was quoted last month saying that only a "moron" would purchase YouTube and he may have a point.  Cuban certainly knows a bad deal (good deal depending on whose perspective) when he sees one since he himself pulled off a 5.7 billion dollar sale of to Yahoo in the height of the dotcom boom and laughed his way to the bank.  Considering the fact that had nowhere near the user base and earning power of YouTube, one could see the 1.65 billion dollar sale of YouTube as a bargain.  YouTube has so far avoided any serious litigation, but that was before there was anyone with deep pockets to sue and Google certainly has deep pockets.

Mark Cuban is almost certain that Google will be in trouble and writes.

"Could Fox, the owner of Myspace put GooTube in a huge hole by being legally aggressive and going after every video of Stewy from Family Guy , American Idol, any of their TV shows"

However, Mark Cuban being the smart business man that he is hedged his bet and tells us his contingency plan if Google gets off relatively easy with the lawsuits.

"Well, I'm ready for that too. I went ahead and registered because thats how much fun its going to be using features to support a "load everything you own and share it with world" website.

I will host in the same way as Youtube and Google. Upload in the same, dont ask, dont tell approach. I will sell ads however they do. Preroll, or adsense or whatever.

Only i will expand the storage beyond 100mbs and will open it up to books, term papers, pictures, movies, music, articles, anything and everything that can be digitized. I will add the appropriate disclaimers and provide a cool social networking interface. Maybe something like Goowy.Com or maybe something like I mean, why not ? What could be cooler User Generated Content than the termpaper you wrote on Daniel Boone ? Or what could be more interesting than scanning in a book you wanted to give to someone and just posting it ? And dang, just wholesale upload all of your MP3s."

Note that the typos are not mine since it's quoted verbatim.  No one can say for sure how this is going to turn out, but business is going to get very good for the lawyers.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Add YouTube to Google's Liability Column

    D T Schmitz
    • Google video already had the liability

      What everyone forgets is Google was trying to build it's own YouTube in the form of Google video.

      YouTube just did it better faster.

      Also... It wasn't the lack of deep pockets. It was the DMCA safe harbor provisions that was keeping most lawsuits away.

      What Mark described already exists in the form of free web hosting companies, or has he never heard of that?? Has he been in a cave for 10 years? Never heard of GeoCities, Tripod, AddYour, or any of the 500+ hosts listed at ?
      Edward Meyers
  • Copyright, fair use, advertising, and search

    Google makes its money by archiving information and then selling advertising space when they make that information available. (Search is really just a means to establish pricing; to determine which information is more valuable.)

    Google's position on copyright is uncertain -- Google has money and has to tread lightly when it comes to questions of copyright infringment because they make an attractive target for lawsuits. They are, after all, making money on the content they serve up. But Google also has a vested interest in broadening the scope of "fair use." The more content that Google has access to, the more information it has to sell.

    So far so good. Many people like the idea that Google gives them "free" access to information.

    But what happens when that information is your personal information?

    Are your medical records sufficiently protected? Would it be "fair use" for Google to offer medical record searches? What if they removed your name and specific address? What if they tried "really hard" to remove your name and address?

    For that matter, is your name or your address protected? Voter registration? The content of your correspondence?

    What about your social security number? What about your credit score or your debt history?

    Google wants into each one of the markets. Will "free information" look as good to us then?
    • You are confusing multiple issues

      Copyright and privacy are two separate issues--lumping them together just confuses things.

      ---Google's position on copyright is uncertain---

      Google's position on copyright is very certain. They see themselves as an indexer, a legal, fair use of copyrighted content. There are multiple lawsuits currently ongoing to determine whether this is indeed correct. Note that if Google loses, you'll see major sweeping changes to all search engines, including Yahoo, MSN, etc, and they'll all become a lot less useful.

      Making money on the re-use of information is not the issue here. If it's a violation of copyright, it's a violation of copyright, regardless of whether someone is profiting.

      Since your medical records, voter registration, social security number, etc. are not copyrighted material, you've now gone into a separate issue. Much of that information is indeed protected by law, but by separate laws from simple copyright. I don't know of any particular moves Google has made to publish such material, but let me know where they have done so.
      tic swayback
      • definition of fair use

        To be sure, personal information isn't protected by copyright. Which is part of my point -- the protections keeping personal information private are pretty murky, as are the conditions under which an individual may waive privacy.

        Google is currently indexing, storing and selling access to individual search information and individual correspondence information. They have publicly stated that their goal is to index ~all~ information. (And yes, violation of copyright is violation of copyright -- Google simply makes an attractive target because of the money they make. More money = More Attractive Target

        I personally think that we'll see them move into credit check, debt history, and medical history fairly soon. And in each of those areas they could revolutionize the industry. And in many ways for the better.

        Lumping issues of privacy and copyright may seem to muddle things at first, but I think there are a few core principles at stake here that people are missing. Splitting the debate into two discussions only masks those issues.

        Rather than think about these issues merely as technical questions about HIPAA regulations or copyright law, I think it can be constructive to think in principles.

        As an exercise, take two positions: 1) Lock all information down. No fair use, privacy rights trump all else. and 2) Open up all information. No privacy, no copyrights.

        Both positions are abusrd, but why? What are some common characteristics of different types of information? Why would we want access to some and not others? What characterisitics do different sources of "open" information share? What characterisitcs do do different sources of "closed" information share? What common principle do copyrights and privacy rights share?
        • Not just Google

          If you want to get into big picture questions, then perhaps Google should be left out of the discussion. All of the things you've mentioned, a book, personal data, etc, are all currently available through a variety of means. Some are free, some require a payment. Some are legally divulged widely, some require shady dealings.

          Now, if all of that legally obtainable information is already out there, what's wrong with someone like Google creating a tool to make it easier to obtain (and profiting from doing so)? Sure, leave out the types of information prohibited or limited by law.
          tic swayback
        • None of what you list is copyrightable

          In order to be eligible for copyright protection in the US it has to have a degree of artistic expression. Facts and figures, in particular listing of names or ingredients explicitly is excluded from copyright protection in the US.

          Second, violation of copyright is not violation of copyright in regards to the law. The nature and intent (willful or not) of the infringement effects the damages and ignorance of the law is a defense with regards to anti-circumvention.

          Privacy rights are very different from copyright also because the information about the person typically is not authored by himself/herself but rather by a third party EG; a doctor, credit agency, or a bank.

          Also it's not more money = more attractive target. More money = more lawyers/greater will to fight in court.
          Edward Meyers
  • Does the DMCA protect YouTube?

    That's the key question here--under the terms of the DMCA, it seems fairly clear that YouTube is not responsible for the actions of its users. That all it needs to do is take down copyrighted material when notified. We'll have to see how this is interpreted in court and if it holds up. Yet again, the DMCA is proving to be a sloppy, poorly written, poorly thought out piece of legislation.

    Given the recent content deals YouTube has made with 4 or 5 major studios, that should cut down a great deal on all of the lawsuits. One wonders also if they'll hold some leverage. Do you think that having lots of Stewie short videos on YouTube helps or hurts Fox in terms of the advertising revenue they can charge during "Family Guy"? Let's say Fox does sue YouTube. YouTube, in return, removes every Fox related piece of content from YouTube. Who gets hurt more? Fox would lose a lot of free promotion, a lot of buzz.

    I like Cuban, and find him entertaining. Other than that one deal, done at the height of dotcom speculation, has he done anything else that actually makes money?
    tic swayback
    • It depends

      Under the DMCA Safe Harbor provisions you can't directly profit from it and you have to take it down if you [b]know[/b] it is violating copyright.

      This is a actually a good provision as Berne made it so you couldn't require registration for copyright proetction (The US bars you from bringing infringemnt charges unless you register first and reduce the damages greatly if you don't register in a timely fashion). Berne also made it so that once you create a work that is copyrightable it is copyrighted.

      The combination of the 2 makes it so;

      1. There is no list/database of what is copyrighted and to whom. In the case of derivatives and combination works that are infringing they wouldn't have been registered in the first place and there is Fair Use.

      2. There is no way someone can trace back , on an unregistered work, who actually owns it. Even in the case of registered works EG; Unix, more than one entity has registered the copyright.

      This means ISPs and web space providers can not actively police the works of their clients.

      The provisions are here

      [i](c) Information Residing on Systems or Networks at Direction of Users. -

      (1) In general. - A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the storage at the direction of a user of material that resides on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, if the service provider -

      (A)(i) does not have actual knowledge that the material or an activity using the material on the system or network is infringing;

      (ii) in the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent; or

      (iii) upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material;

      (B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and

      (C) upon notification of claimed infringement as described in paragraph (3), responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity.

      (2) Designated agent. - The limitations on liability established in this subsection apply to a service provider only if the service provider has designated an agent to receive notifications of claimed infringement described in paragraph (3), by making available through its service, including on its website in a location accessible to the public, and by providing to the Copyright Office, substantially the following information:

      (A) the name, address, phone number, and electronic mail address of the agent.

      (B) other contact information which the Register of Copyrights may deem appropriate.

      The Register of Copyrights shall maintain a current directory of agents available to the public for inspection, including through the Internet, in both electronic and hard copy formats, and may require payment of a fee by service providers to cover the costs of maintaining the directory.

      (3) Elements of notification. -

      (A) To be effective under this subsection, a notification of claimed infringement must be a written communication provided to the designated agent of a service provider that includes substantially the following:

      (i) A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

      (ii) Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.

      (iii) Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.

      (iv) Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.

      (v) A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

      (vi) A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

      (B)(i) Subject to clause (ii), a notification from a copyright owner or from a person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner that fails to comply substantially with the provisions of subparagraph (A) shall not be considered under paragraph (1)(A) in determining whether a service provider has actual knowledge or is aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent.

      (ii) In a case in which the notification that is provided to the service provider's designated agent fails to comply substantially with all the provisions of subparagraph (A) but substantially complies with clauses (ii), (iii), and (iv) of subparagraph (A), clause (i) of this subparagraph applies only if the service provider promptly attempts to contact the person making the notification or takes other reasonable steps to assist in the receipt of notification that substantially complies with all the provisions of subparagraph (A).[/i]
      Edward Meyers
    • Would hurt Fox more

      If it weren?t for YouTube I probably would not have discovered many shows I watch today. Never even knew Chris Wallace had a Sunday morn show if not for that Clinton episode. It's not like they are posting the complete episodes anyway.
  • verbatim

    if something is taken "verbatim" then, unless they spell every word they say then you cannot use that excuse to excuse spelling errors!!!
  • Is Google responsible for what YouTube did/didn't do...

    ...before the acquisition? Is Google not just another investor in YouTube? Is Google therefore liable for ANYTHING that YouTube may be liable for?

    The fact that Google may have deep pockets, to me, is irrelevant. I may be wrong, but Google's pockets, I think, are out of bounds to any litigants of YouTube.

    If Google had thrown cash at YouTube, that cash might be inm jeopardy. It didn't, so I don't see a problem.

    Of course, I think Google [i]probably[/i] did its due diligence. If not, it has itself to blame.
  • Message has been deleted.

  • Money burning a hole in Google's pocket

    They have so much money- losing a Billion here or there is no big deal. But Cuban made his Billions selling his overpriced venture to someone else- its a good gig if you can swing it.
  • Mark Should Know

    He did the same thing.
    The only winners are Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. They made out like bandits. Google has just bought a company that yet to turn a profit with a business strategy right out of the dot con bubble: give away content and hop to make profit selling ads and counting hits to the site as value. Liability issues are just the catalyst; any large outflow will case Youtube to crumble or anything Google does that will cause contributors to leave in droves.
    • Obvious question

      ---a business strategy right out of the dot con bubble: give away content and hop to make profit selling ads---

      How is this business strategy any different from Google's strategy?
      tic swayback
    • Not as well as Mark Cuban

      "The only winners are Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. They made out like bandits"

      They didn't make out as well as Mark Cuban, but I wouldn't mind trading with them :).
      • Remember, they got paid in stock

        Whereas Cuban got cash (and more than 3X as much). So really, it's in their interest to help Google do well with this acquisition, at least until they can sell off all that stock.
        tic swayback
        • Yeah and Cuban is still laughing, LOL

          Google sure is a lot smarter than Yahoo that's for sure. YouTube (aside from the legal liabilities) is actually quite successful in building a massive brand name and user base. had nothing other than a room full of used servers and a domain name yet Yahoo paid a fortune for mere potential. It certainly is a better deal than what EBay got with Skype.

          I can?t say how this is going to turn out for Google though I?m leaning slightly towards Cuban?s assessment. I can see it going either way or most likely come out with mixed results.
          • Google needed to take charge here

            Good blog entry from one of your ZDNet cohorts which explains why it was so important for Google to jump in here, before any legal precedents were set:
            tic swayback