Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Conspiracy theories

Laurence Solomon in the National Post notes that a pro-Israel YouTube video, parodying "We Are the World", has been taken down by YouTube subsequent to a bogus copyright claim. Solomon claims anti-Semitism:
This claim by YouTube is itself a con. As YouTube well knows, parodies are not subject to a copyright claim. To add to the absurdity of YouTube’s claim, YouTube carries numerous other parodies of “We are the world,” – a search on the YouTube site of “We are the world spoof” turns up 5,100 results.

YouTube’s real problem with this viral hit is the virus of anti-Semitism. “We con the world,” which portrays terrorists on the Gaza flotilla’s ship, the MV Mavi Marmara, explaining how they’ll con the world, hits too close to home for many Hamas sympathizers, who mounted a successful campaign to cow YouTube. The satire works because the lyrics, some sung to footage of an Israel soldier on the Mavi Marmara being attacked by a frenzied armed mob, don’t need to stretch the truth
The right wing blogosphere isn't happy.

Far far more plausible: somebody, possibly even the automated bots that scour YouTube looking for potentially violating content, flagged the video to Google as infringing. As I understand things, Google automatically pulls anything of the sort while providing the poster a mechanism for appeal.

Do a search on YouTube for Draw Muhammad Day, or for Geert Wilders' film "Fitna", and tell me just how cowed YouTube is.

The problem isn't Google. It's the DMCA. It's ridiculous to expect that Google, who hosts YouTube for free, would be able to have lawyers go through all of the complaints they get. Instead, it's up to the user, after a complaint, to show that the content was fair use or otherwise noninfringing. Under DMCA, Google could get in trouble if they didn't have procedures like this in place.

So, it's very likely that, had anyone at Google actually watched the video or read the complaint, they would have known it was fair use. But all of these procedures are automated. And so I kinda wonder why the poster of the original video hasn't used the available redress mechanisms within Google.

It's a shame that the DMCA makes it relatively easy to lodge frivolous copyright complaints.

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