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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On YouTube Lawyers vs TechCrunch

You might’ve heard by now that TechCrunch has received a Cease & Desist from YouTube regarding the takedown of a lil’ tool that downloads YouTube movies to the harddisk. It sounds like hypocrisy: that one site which breaks hundreds of thousands of copyrights of others (not sure about the exact number) is now afraid that their own ToS and copyright is infringed upon. (Mike Arrington says “the irony ... is delicious.”) Reto Meier in the forum on the other hand argues that...

... YouTube has arranged licenses for providing streamed online content from many copyright holders (users as well as [commercial] entities like MTV etc.). I dare say that the fact the YouTube don’t allow downloading of the clips is a very important part of these agreements.

So really I think, it’s a matter of YouTube [aggressively] ensuring that they don’t break their own agreements with copyright holders. If they’re seen as allowing this sort of thing people like Universal and BMG are going to get unhappy quickly.

Somewhat in line with above, here’s what YouTube’s Zahavah Levine has to tell me on this (my emphasis):

Currently, YouTube is a streaming-only service. We do not permit users to download the videos we host on our site. We believe our Terms of Use are clear on this point, but in light of the recently-expressed confusion we will consider revising our Terms of Use to avoid any further confusion. It is important to many of our users who have uploaded and licensed content to YouTube that their content is authorized for streaming-only.

This might be true for some users – but other users, in fact, don’t have the authority over the content they uploaded in the first place. (Not that I think that that’s bad; I think that copyright laws need to be changed to honor this type of – commercially non-threatening – hobby remixing. But that’s yet another discussion.)

Join the ongoing forum comments.

[Thanks Tadeusz!]


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