Gootubes’ Content Protection Programs – That ain’t it

First of all, I have to commend Google for finally trying to get in the game and protect content. At least its nice to know that they have an interest in trying rather than just talking.

Unfortunately for them, their approach puts them in a catch 22 situatiojn and a position that hasn’t worked all that well for them in the book publishing business.

Based on what I have been able to read, it appears that the system is built upon content owners giving Google a copy of their content , which is then “registered” in their copy protection system. When a file is uploaded by a Youtube and hopefully a Google Video user (since Google Video is a far more egregious violator of long form copyrights), Google will then compare the file and its contents to a database of content previously made available to Google. If it finds a match, Im guessing that it will reject the upload, or at least, first attempt to get a confirmation from the copyright owner involved.

This all sounds wonderful in theory, but as Google found out from book publishers, not everyone likes the idea of Google having a digital copy of 100pct of their content, including me.

I recognize that it puts Google in a tough position. In fact, it could also be considered hypocritical on my part because I feel more comfortable with a user off the street buying and owning a DRM free copy of any or all of our movies or shows than I feel with Google holding DRM free copies of my content in order to protect it from pirated uploads. I dont have a good reason, but I don’t trust Google with a copy of the worlds content any more than I would trust MicroSoft , IBM of the 1980s or any corporate SuperPower.

What is worse, once they announce their “solution”, which is not really a solution, its going to give end users who steal content a sense of protection if the pirated content they upload is accepted. If it gets past their Content protection scheme, it must be legal, right ? Call it one of the many laws of unintended consequences. The amount of pirated content could actually increase. For small content owners who want to protect their content, this could increase their cost of policing sites for their content and filing takedown requests.

Plus, uploaders will quickly and easily beat the content owners to the punch by uploading files before it is entered into the copy protection system. Its going to be tough for some content owners to upload episodes of a show that hasnt been aired yet. Many shows, particularly news, gossip and obviously and others are in production right up till they are broadcast.

So despite a nice step in the right direction, Google is not absolved of its obligation to respect copyright.

What should Google do ?

They should take the easy way out.

They have announced that they more than a THOUSAND of content partnerships. Thats a big # and Im sure growing number. Which leads to the real solution for Gootubes content problems. Those owners who want their content posted on Google Video or Youtube can participate in their content protection programs. You want your cat fighting your dog tape, join the program. Which is exactly what all the music sites that offer content from independent artists do.

Of course none of those indie music sites has the user numbers that Youtube has and Google knows it. There is no way they want to be a fully protected site. So I dont expect this to happen any time soon. THere is too much value from illegal uploads. And as I mentioned above, GoogleVideo is more efficient an outlet than Pirate Bay, particularly for private groups. Why use torrents when Google has it all right there for you, delivered from some of the best datacenters in the world ?

Which leads us to the truth of the matter.If their copyright protection software works, they no longer need the DMCA to hide behind.

I dont think we see that happen until the Viacom Suit shuts either Google Video or Youtube down.

27 thoughts on “Gootubes’ Content Protection Programs – That ain’t it

  1. A great read, very informative
    Been looking for a blog like this one for a while
    Keep up the good work.

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    Comment by wowglder -

  3. Youtube will get it right eventually. The lawsuits must be a huge pressure on them right now. Also don\’t forget the Google bought Youtube, but did not merge with them. Google has no liability other than the amount paid for Youtube. If someone wins a big lawsuit Youtube is dead.

    Comment by madison flooring -

  4. It is downn, showing 404 error:/

    Comment by Felsefe -

  5. I think it\’s about time Viacom takes action, I think they said there was something like 600,000 hours of Viacom programming on YouTube. On the other hand.. some entertainers like it, gives them some exposure they wouldn\’t otherwise get.

    Comment by mavericks-t-shirt -

  6. Hi Mark,

    I actually tried to post this a couple of months back and had no luck … not sure why. Anyway, I generally agree with your thoughts on this issue … my small company has \”lived\” this experience!

    ****************************************************************

    Hi Mark,

    Although we have never met, I have followed your career rather closely for the past ten years. Yep, Imageline (my company) was directly involved in the original \”.com\” boom of the late 90\’s as well … only from a totally different perspective than most of you guys with more brains (and more money).

    My companies (Imageline and its predecessor company, MGI) pioneered the development of vector-based electronic graphic arts content (clip art illustrations, animations, templates) for the PC platform in the early and mid 80\’s. We employed some of the finest digtial artists and designers in the world. And our quality was recognized by virtually everyone. We signed licensing agreements with all of the major players of that time – Adobe, IBM, Apple/Claris, Wordperfect, Lotus, Borland, Aldus, Xerox/Ventura, Broderbund, Computer Associates, Parsons Technology, Softkey, Microsoft and others.

    Our best licensing year was 1997.

    Things changed in the second half of 1997 (almost 10 years ago today!). New Internet companies in the U.S., such as Xoom.com, InfoSpace, Go2Net, ZDNet, AOL, SimpleNet, Jumbo!, Concentric, Zedcor/ArtToday, Prodigy, Lycos, CompuServe and others (and an equal number of start-up Internet companies internationally) began to give away software/content in exchange for \”eyeballs\”. Advertising would pay the freight. The new \”Net visionaries\” (as they liked to call themselves) discovered that \”images\” represented one of the categories of \”electronic content\” that everyone could use. Pictures were the world\’s common denominator (no translation necessary), and they required little to NO customer support resources.

    So what happened? Before you could blink an eye, Xoom.com and others started to proclaim that they owned \”the largest library of proprietary clip art images in the world\”. Much like YouTube in many ways. Trouble is, Mark, almost all of the digital art was pirated (sexy word for \”stolen\”).

    We battled NBCi (who acquired Xoom.com in late 1999) and others in court for over five years! The federal judges didn\’t have a clue what had hit them … especially here in Virginia! They made MAJOR mistakes. Many of them couldn\’t even spell DCMA, let alone interpret it. We took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, but were rejected.

    We ran out of money and were forced to settle … what a shame!

    Your Google/YouTube buddies weren\’t the first to come up with this novel idea. Steal other people\’s content, make your fortune, and then get out of the way before the antiquated laws, and those who try to enforce them (both civil and criminal), can catch you. I wrote an interesting article (more like a White Paper, actually) while still with the SPA/SIIA back in mid-2000 titled the \”The Pirates Web\”. It forecast what we have today on the Internet. Total chaos, in my opinion.

    So what\’s my point? I have really enjoyed your perspective on the situation with Google, Viacom, YouTube and others. I think you are one of the few who has it nailed. Wait a second, let me take that back. You are one of the few who has it nailed AND also has the guts to express your opinion publicly. I am VERY disappointed with today\’s corps of so-called independent journalists. Same thing happened in the late 90\’s. So many of their parent companies were trying to cash in on the Internet 1.0 gold rush that controversial opinions almost completely disappeared. I know. I was following it very closely at the time. Still am.

    Here\’s the danger in my view. The backbone and origin of most of the new original ideas, works of art, and entrepreneurial spirit (and employment, as well) of this country lies with the innovation of creative people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, take a chance, work hard, and be fairly compensated if their instincts (or talents) are right.

    Digital piracy removes the final part of this delicately balanced equation. And you can\’t get the toothpaste back in the tube once its pirated over the Internet.

    Imageline is preparing yet another battle in our ten-year crusade to curtail the piracy of electronic graphic arts content over the Internet. Our industry (illustrators, artists, designers, animators, cartoonists) is poorly organized (unlike the music, photography, and movie industries) so we (Imageline) have had to form our own \”lobby\”.

    We need some \”mavericks\” to help. Are you interested? You can reach me at gpaine3@yahoo.com.

    Keep up the good work!

    George Riddick

    Comment by George Riddick -

  7. I think there are a few major problems.

    1. Content owners are split on whether or not DL is good for business. What the music industry is seeing, especially in Hip Hop, popularity is becoming more importent than actually selling records (provided they have a major deal).

    2. There is no recourse. Once sensitive info is out, its out. They bank on the fact, individuales will feel helpless against the super power and give up. Reality, it\’s like telling your mom shes fat. You may say sorry but the fact is you still said it, which means you were thinking it.

    3. Where are the technology companies? CD\’s have been around how long? We have figured ever possible way to store media, with every kind of laser, WHEN ARE WE GOING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE A CD ON RIPABLE? If the music industry was so concerned about stolen music, don\’t you think this would be a course of action?

    It\’s cancer! You can fight it but it will ultimately win, UNLESS the Government decides to enforce the law.

    Comment by Jerry R. Reynolds -

  8. I\’ve had a problem with copyrights and intellectual property for some time.

    My understanding was that historically copyrights and patents were enacted to encourage the distribution of the copyrighted material and the diffusion of ideas.
    Since in the past there were very limited distribution channels and the only way to encourage the creation of material was to ensure the creator was paid.

    Currently, the creators of content be it books, movies, software, music, etc get very small piece of the pie. From my very limited research \”Royalties\” account for less than 25% for these works while most are fewer than 10%.

    This tiny amount is justified via \”The Cost of Business\” argument, which I agree with these businesses are very expensive and have lots of pockets to fill.

    Was not the original intent of the law to protect the Creator of the Work? Not the Publisher or the Distributor.

    Comment by Adam Gates -

  9. Is the link is opening at your end. It is showing 404 error.

    Comment by Julie -

  10. As the producer of some of youtube\’s videos – this obviously increases my chances of uploading some of my better work instead of keeping it on the smaller/lesser viewed video sites like DailyMotion which I used to use for general feedback when I didn\’t want my work being copied a million times over with the \”ebaumsworld\” or whatever logo overtop of it..

    Comment by Jesse U -

  11. I think people are also missing out on a major point of copyright law. It doesn\’t grant exclusive rights to the person who holds the copyright. Fair use of the content by any and all people is permitted without the permission of the copyright holder. If I wish to put a video or song online for use in a commentary, parody, or for educational purposes I am free to do so and all the objections of the copyright holder are moot. Google\’s automated fingerprinting system is incapable of knowing if it is flagging or removing content that is protected by Fair Use.

    Copyright is not intended to allow content creators to control the distribution or use of their creations absolutely. It is intended as a temporary monopoly to sell that content to make up the cost of creation as in incentive to create more work. The creation of enjoyable art results in a public good in an economic sense. My hearing your music results in an increase in happiness (hopefully, unless your music stinks). Fair use of audio, video, and text is also a vital part of the law and should be protected as vigorously as illegal copying and distribution for commercial gain is fought.

    Fair use encourages us to examine what is created and learn from it. It also enriches our minds and our culture. We copy passages of books and magazines for use in classrooms. We parody songs and in the process make a statement about those songs and ourselves. We remix music or movies to create new derivative works that enrich our culture in ways the original content creators may not have imagined.

    None of this can be recognized by an automated filter on an online video site. It is often the case the Fair Use can only be recognized by the context in which the uploaded video is then used. If I embed a YouTube video on my blog in the context of reviewing and commenting on parts of a film that is acceptable. If I am charging people to watch the movie on my site that is not. A human is required to exercise judgment in these cases and then only delete the uploaded file if Fair Use rights do not apply. To do otherwise goes against the true motivations of copyright as a temporary monopoly granted only with the assent of the citizens of the country via the government. it\’s easy to lose sight of the true purpose of copyright (and patent) law and get caught up in hysteria over \”piracy\” and stopping thieves.

    Comment by Kevin Hall -

  12. I believe that Google going to be much more careful about this issue. Especially after the recent huge youTube sue. I am not sure about what is mentioned in the comments whether it is legal or not that Google takes your content, i feel it is very hard to prove that what they do is illegal.

    Comment by Adi -

  13. I\’m not altogether impressed with anything to do with copyright. Someone puts out an album or a video and think that will make them rich. It shouldn\’t, and now it looks like the balance is shifting, however slightly, into the reality that it just may not. And that is exactly where it should be.

    As Oscar Wilde pointed out, all art is quite useless. It has no intrinsic value, merely a price which people would willingly pay to obtain it. If that price is nothing at all, that is exactly what that art is worth to the person making the purchase.

    I don\’t download videos of anything because not only are they worth nothing to me, the time I would waste watching them would be better spent doing something else. If I do want to watch something, I go to the local video shop and rent it. My entire library consists of one dvd I bought when it was on sale.

    All these squealing fat pigs crying poor and bleating about pirates robbing the film, video and music industries make me ill. They whinge and bitch that piracy may preclude struggling artists from achieving their goals in the industry. If their goal is to get rich by singing a dozen songs or acting in a movie, why on earth should they reach that goal. There is no way artists are going to stop singing or acting because \”there\’s no money in it because of piracy\”. That\’s just a complete lie.

    People may no longer be able to get rich from it, but again I ask, why should they?

    Writers? You think people who write are going to stop writing because of the likes of Google making free copies of their work available? Again, hogwash.

    People are going to sing and dance and act and write – because people love doing it. We all do it. Some people who do it better than others will get noticed and be able to make a comfortable living WORKING at what they do – performing, not recording. I\’ll pay to see a performance, but I\’ll think twice before buying a recording. Authors whose books I want, I\’ll buy. So will anyone else who wants them. See JK Rowling for details.

    Comment by Paul Ritchie -

  14. I\’m usually pretty sympathetic to your IP protection posts, not least because I think most people and many businesses today are too casual about using others\’ IP these days. But I think you\’ve lost it here. Google is complying with the law — it\’s responsive to DMCA takedown notices — and it\’s applying technology to go beyond the law to find new ways to identify infringing content before it even gets up there.

    Is this perfect? No, it isn\’t, because infringing content can still get around the controls. But the alternative you\’re proposing is basically \”become a traditional TV station,\” and it\’s not clear to me what business advantage is then left to Google *or* what benefit then accrues to the consumer. It\’s tough for me to think that the only solution here is to both throw away profits and consumer satisfaction just because Google hasn\’t gotten it right yet. Chris Clark\’s proposal of fingerprinting is a solid way to extend current practices, and, frankly, a lot of companies could offer fingerprinting and monitoring services. That\’s just one approach — there\’s probably a ton of folks out there with great ideas.

    Come on Mark, you\’ve always supported drastic changes that deliver consumer benefit. That\’s just what\’s happening here. Figure out how to help this change happen, and how to make money off it (here\’s a start: you don\’t pay for bandwidth on videos hosted on YouTube).

    Oh, and I want a place for my cat movies too.

    Comment by Wade -

  15. Check out Creative Commons and their liscensing efforts. I hope that all sites eventually make these available to their users as a default protection.

    Comment by Craig -

  16. You are dead on with the comments about GooTube\’s content protection program…………if you want to be next to the dog and cat vids, or the Major Label Artist push vids.

    That kind of exposure, you can die from.
    ———————————————-
    What? You\’re actually arguing the content power of these sources? Unfortunately, I don\’t think Mark would agree with you. These sites (and what will come after them) are incredibly powerful – the first to figure out the legality and revenue model to please content owners will win. This is absolutely how consumers want to receive their media.

    Comment by Matt -

  17. It sounds like they\’ve taken you up on your suggestion and protected copyright owners. I don\’t think it\’s a big deal that a spammer can take credit by uploading first. By signing with Google and agreeing to their disclaimer, a spammer would have to be very careful about doing a move like that. It wouldn\’t last long and there\’s someone to sue. Especially if they will require people to prove they are human. I think this solves the problem.

    Comment by GilbertZ -

  18. Chris Clark is correct, the tools for \”fingerprinting\” content need not be Google\’s sole preserve. They could be distributed to all, or at least to some trusted third parties.

    However, when a fingerprint match (or partial match) occurs, Google will need to employ real human editors to review the original against the apparent copy – and *this* is when Google will need a copy of your content, Mark.

    Comment by Alan Perkins -

  19. If something can be engineered, it can be reverse-engineered. In other words, hackers will always be able to find a work-around, it\’s virtually impossible to create any protection system that is fail-safe. That\’s why it makes sense to just drop protection all together, cuz all it does is make the content being protected LESS VALUABLE.

    Also, the talk about shutting YouTube or Google Video off? That\’s quite an insane and impractical possibility. There are FAR too many users of both sites, and whether content creators like it or not video upload sites are only growing, not going away.

    A change in the times certainly would call for a change in traditional ways of content creation and distribution. Content creators can fight it as much as they want, but it\’ll only hurt your business in the end to try and lock your content down.

    If you\’re Google, what can u really do? They\’re trying to sign deals to make people happy, they\’re trying new protection technology and testing those kind of ideas, and they\’re using one of the DMCA\’s only good laws to hide behind. Google truly has its hands tied, they can\’t just get out of the video business. They just happen to be the biggest and most targeted, they\’re plenty of clone sites, video sites with other features, and we all know about BitTorrent.

    Whatever Gootube\’s fate is, it really won\’t matter cuz users will always have alternates and other sites and torrents to download. It\’s impossible to stop, so a business\’s best course of action would be to try and adapt as best as they can to the changing times and technology and try to brace for the inevitable.

    Comment by James Stevens -

  20. I\’ve got to agree with Chris Clark above; \”What if Google distributed a tool that allowed content owners to generate the fingerprints themselves rather then sending all their content to Google?\”
    Souds to me that Google\’s \”solution\” is to become a for-profit version of the Library of Congress.

    Comment by Jack Pribek -

  21. At least for now, they are using a third party protection system, Audible Magic. (See upcoming article in SJ Mercury.) Copyright holders (mostly music companies) have been giving Audible Magic copies of content for fingerprinting purposes for years now (it was originally used so disk duplicators could make sure they weren\’t mistakenly making pirate copies of music tracks).

    Mark, you and I have been on the same side of this issue for a while now, with most of the Net on the other side. But in this case, AM has proven to be a fair steward of copyrights. Google appears to be doing the right thing. Why not give them a chance?

    Comment by Josh Bernoff -

  22. This rings of the \”Paying to op out\” of the phone book. The phone companies created directories that they derived advertising revenue and other revenue ( selling lists to marketers etc. The Content of said books was your \”content\”, your name, address and phone number. What if you did not want your content to be used by the phone company in this fashion?? You had to PAY a fee to be unlisted.
    Now Google says, if you want us to do something about all of your content that is being posted to our service without your permission, go the the effort and expense to give us a copy and play by our rules, thus enable google to make $$.
    Its clear the reverse model, Op in will have a greater affintity for assuting only athorized content is posted, but results in less content.
    Notice how systems that make money off of other people content allways choose Op out models vs Op in??

    Comment by john wilcox -

  23. I expect Google is going to seem scarier and scarier to the producers of content and that you\’ll see more and more people articulating the struggle of the hypocritical nature you pointed out. But as an \”end user\”, I really love the notion of everything digitized and one-stop (ultimately) shopping.

    I\’m not sure it will actually get there, but if it does I imagine the thought of people getting everything from the Flintstones to The Godfather via Google someday isn\’t going to go over very well with any of the traditional media.

    The curse of interesting times🙂

    Comment by Robert Seidman -

  24. I\’m a little confused about the point of this post.

    You\’re not comfortable with Google having a copy of your work even just to protect your copyright.

    As for users being empowered if they get past the system, I doubt it. They\’ll find it fun to find ways to hack around the system, as they already do with audible magic\’s solution, but I doubt most uploaders have the skills of a torrent group.

    As for hiding behind the DMCA, just drop that. They\’ve offered up a solution, if content owners go for it; they\’re protected. If they don\’t (because of whatever strange fears they have); what\’s Google meant to do?

    Comment by Adam -

  25. Hello Mark,

    I\’ve never downloaded a track illegally. I\’ve never uploaded content to anyone. I develop content for a living, and the last platform I would place my material is on GooTube. Furthermore, I plan on monitoring said content like a monster, to make sure some boho doesn\’t submit something they have no right to.

    You are dead on with the comments about GooTube\’s content protection program…………if you want to be next to the dog and cat vids, or the Major Label Artist push vids.

    That kind of exposure, you can die from.

    Randy Geider

    Comment by Randy Geider -

  26. What is Google distributed a tool that allowed content owners to generate the fingerprints themselves rather then sending all their content to Google? There is no reason for this technology that Google needs to keep the original content around. Ironically, shipping this technology would expose Google to some technology disclosure risk since they likely keep the fingerprinting technology guarded.

    Comment by Chris Clark -

  27. Unlikely that a court will shut down the VueTube any time soon. Congress might enact special DMCA legislation more quickly than a court will reach the endgame of the Viacom, et als, suits.
    Having a gatekeeper for user-submitted content is about the only fix to the current unrestrained flow of unauthorized video onto YouTube.

    Comment by Thomason -

Comments are closed.