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Monday, March 29, 2010

YouTube/Google vs. Viacom

Viacom is suing Google and YouTube for copyright infringement. As I've said before, "intellectual property" is not property.

If I steal your car, you may say "WTF? Where's my car?" My theft directly injured you. For intellectual property, that's not true. If I copy your song or movie, you may still use the original.

"Intellectual property" creates problems for any user-generated content website. The site owner can be responsible for what the users do. "A business owner is responsible for what customers do!" is an example of corrupt State law.

YouTube's original management noticed what videos were most popular. Many of these clips were copyrighted. However, they did not take down those videos. They decided to wait until they got a DMCA takedown notice. They did comply with takedown notices. They did not remove popular videos that turned out to be copyrighted. Is that illegal?

For example, clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were placed on YouTube. It isn't clear that actually injured Viacom. The free advertising might have been a net benefit.

Due to the way copyright law works, Viacom's lawyers have to act like jerkwads. If they don't aggressively crack down on copies, they may lose their copyright claim.

Another problem is that there's no clearcut legal standard for "fair use". Am I allowed to use a 5 second clip in my own video? What about 30 seconds? 3 minutes? 10 minutes?

Another problem is that a show can't intentionally allow sharing. For example, Stephen Colbert probably benefited from having his videos shared on YouTube. Videos shared on YouTube increased his personal reputation. Working for Viacom, he has no choice but to follow their corporate policy.

Another problem is statutory damages instead of compensatory damages. With intellectual property, there is no obligation to show actual loss of income. Instead, damages are according to an arbitrary punishment scale. Google/YouTube might be forced to pay $1B, even if Viacom suffered no actual losses. It is possible that Viacom profited overall, due to free publicity from YouTube.

Another example of statutory law is non-crimes like possession of marijuana, tax evasion, or operating a business without a license. In order to be a crime, an action must injure someone else. For statutory crime, there's an arbitrary punishment scale unrelated to actual losses.

A pro-State troll says "Without intellectual property, how will artists get paid?" A more accurate statement is "Without intellectual property, how will all the State middlemen get paid?" When a mainstream media corporation publishes something, they demand you sign over copyright. Most of the money paid goes to the middlemen, and not the content creator.

Sometimes, via intellectual property, an artist loses the right to perform/publish a work they created. If you publish a book and it's out-of-print, the publisher might not be under any obligation to republish it; you can't publish excerpts without their permission.

Intellectual property law and State restriction of the market creates theft opportunities. The middlemen earn economic rent, at the expense of people who do the real work.

It's the usual pro-State troll argument. "Without government, who will build the roads?" Similarly, "Without intellectual property, who will pay the artist?" More generally, "Without violence, how can X earn a living?"

Without intellectual property, people will pay directly to support artists they like. They won't have to pay tribute to a middleman.

Viacom executives and Stephen Colbert earn huge salaries due to their State-backed monopoly. I would have a hard time getting the mainstream media cartel to broadcast and promote my work, even if I could get a larger Internet-based audience.

The State information monopoly creates an artificial shortage of "talented well-known artists". The Internet is leveling the playing field somewhat. It's still really hard to bootstrap an Internet-based business.

Even though I probably could make a better show than most mainstream media performers, the State restricts my opportunities. I'm going to try self-publishing on the Internet soon.

The best model for an Internet-based business is donations from fans, or tickets to live performances. People should support artists who release their work for free on the Internet, with no copyright restrictions.

Intellectual property laws cause more problems than they solve. In a really free market, there's no such thing as "intellectual property". Only a State violence monopoly can prevent people from copying songs and ideas.


gilliganscorner said...

government, who will build the roads?" Similarly, "Without intellectual property, who will pay the artist?" More generally, "Without violence, how can X earn a living?"


I like stating it this way, "Without intellectual property backed by State violence, people will steal property from X!".

I say, "The State steals property from all. As a result, X gets a percentage of all property stolen!"

Anonymous said...

Actually the government doesn't directly enforce intellectual property laws.

It is up to individuals and companies to pay for courts and lawyers.

And courts don't even actually even enforce their orders. You again have to pay for bailiffs.

How much does court action cost?

Lots. Quite simply an IP case could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to quite easily millions. Nothing will be fast. It will take years.

Obviously in clear cut cases such as file-sharing presumably it might be cheaper.

Effectively the only people that can enforce their intellectual property rights are the very rich.

This means the rich can steal intellectual property from the poor.

They and their bent lawyers know that an individual artist can't afford to take them to court.

It is not justice, it is simply a load of bent lawyers on the make and the government allows the bent system to continue by not fixing the fact the court action is too expensive.

The law, justice, morality and ownership has nothing to do with it.

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