Google YouTube: Is Viacom the big bad wolf?

Is Viacom really the culprit?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor on

Are YouTubers in little red riding hood jeopardy?

An ominous voice suggests Viacom may be as dangerous as a big bad wolf in a “Were you caught in the Viacom takedown,” a NOT broadcast yourself professionally produced advocacy video at YouTube, courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Jim Moore, prior Senior Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, undoubtedly welcomes the EFF initiative, as it complements his quest to enlist talent for a prospective class action law suit to “go after Viacom” (see YouTube: Is Viacom hurting innocent YouTubers?”).

Moore himself is featured in the EFF video, a Moore broadcast yourself video that is. I have been chronicling and analyzing what Moore deems to be a YouTube broadcast yourself “Sunday nite dinner at Redbones in Somerville, Mass” debacle, since he put forth at his blog hosted at the Center, “Should we counter sue?,” February 2.

In “YouTube: Are YouTubers at risk?” I present and dissect John Palfrey, Executive Director of the Center, targeted efforts to champion the “rights” of YouTubers he believes may have been harmed by Viacom’s championing of its copyright ownership rights, such as Moore.

Why is Moore portrayed as an aggrieved party, thanks to Viacom?

PALFREY: How many Jim Moore’s are out there?

Jim Moore has received a cease and desist letter from Viacom for a home video that he shot. (I love Jim, but the video’s pretty bad. Highly unlikely to be affecting any market that Viacom cares about, among other things.) The DMCA’s Section 512 has a provision that allows for counter-notification for people, like Jim, who believe that their works that do not infringe copyright have been taken down without cause.

As I have pointed out previously, contrary to Palfrey’s indication, Moore was not served a “cease and desist letter from Viacom,” he received a communication from YouTube. Palfrey characterizes the YouTube to Moore communication as a “nastygram.”

Why isn’t Google’s YouTube deemed be the nasty one?

PALFREY: I have to say that I don’t blame YouTube for complying quickly with the demand, as the law makes them more or less blameless if they do so, even if that policy hurts their users.

Perhaps, but Google is NOT blameless in making a proactive business model decision to operate YouTube under a copyright owner be damned DMCA umbrella philosophy inspiring a YouTuber broadcast yourself by uploading pirated videos owned by television networks mentality.

Google’s chosen method of doing business apparently hurts all rights holders, corporate mainstream media conglomerates and “friends and family” video creators.

In “Google gets defensive, all over the world” I put forth Google’s predilection for “ignoring conventional wisdom in designing its business” by not licensing content from the get go. 

Google has adopted its DMCA fueled reactive handling of copyright infringement issues because if it had to pay for content, like every other “conventional” business, than it would not have the super profit margins or market cap that has made it the darling of Wall Street.

The EFF “Were you caught in the Viacom takedown,” solicitation to YouTubers concludes:

We’d like to hear from you, because at the EFF we like to make sure that copyright law doesn’t trump free speech, or the record of a tasty ribs meal.

A more apt EFF video could be entitled:

“Were you ambushed by Google’s YouTube DMCA business model?”

ALSO: YouTube riches: Social video production or social video pirating?

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