Copyright is a Blunt Instrument, cont.

More evi­dence that copy­right is a blunt instrument.

The inter­net is shak­ing things up in ways no one could have ever expected. Take the recent Google / Via­com bat­tle. Google owns, and claims it is not cul­pa­ble if any­one posts copy­righted mate­r­ial there. If the copy­right owner asks for an infring­ing video to be removed from the YouTube web­site, Google will remove it. But this is very expen­sive for Via­com, to spend all day try­ing to find copy­right infringe­ments and so Via­com says Google must bear the respon­si­bil­ity of polic­ing the YouTube web­site. Via­com has recently sued Google over this issue.

Can there be a compromise?

Per­haps not, and who­ever wins, it will have a detri­men­tal effect. In the New York Times of March 17, 2007, Joe Nocera writes that for either side…

Vic­tory would be sweet, but los­ing could be dis­as­trous. If Google wins, YouTube will never have to pay much to any­one for copy­righted con­tent, and com­pa­nies like Via­com will wind up either hand­ing over their mate­r­ial or con­tin­u­ing to ask that it be removed ‚Äî again and again and again. Smaller com­pa­nies ‚Äî not to men­tion the artists them­selves ‚Äî will prob­a­bly have less con­trol over their own work. If Via­com wins, YouTube will no longer be able to allow copy­righted con­tent to be posted ‚Äî which will surely hurt its busi­ness prospects. And it will make it more dan­ger­ous for any Inter­net site to use copy­righted mate­r­ial ‚Äî even when it is legal to do so.

Copy­right in the age of the inter­net is going to make the lawyers rich for decades to come.

About Richard D. Russell

This was written by Richard D. Russell, New York City based composer of fine music.