Subpoenas and Gootube

This past week I decided to supoena Google to get the names of users that were uploading copies of our movies. I have no intention of pulling an RIAA and suing the users. I do have every attention of sending supoenas early and often to get the names and emails of users uploading our content they have pirated.

Why ? To learn.

I expect that the users will have given fake information, but i want to confirm that is the case. It will be a useful data point. ( I will be interesting to see if when there is ultimately a legal battle, that the courts will allow a company to present itself as a hosting company when it has no idea who ANY of its customers are and it has no business model that creates revenues from hosting.) I suspect that from time to time we will get the emails and actually be able to make contact with users. That is when it could get interesting. I want to ask them some simple questions. The first of which is why ? Sure there are a lot of possible and obvious answers, but maybe the will tell me something new or interesting that I can learn from.

The 2nd question will be whether they were induced by Google in any way to upload the video. Not that I think Google coerced them in any way. I don’t. But I want to know if they feel that Google endorses and supports uploading and streaming of pirated content. I want to know why they ignored the warnings that are on the video upload page.

Knowledge comes not just from supoenas.

This is a page that has the first 9 minutes of our movie The Host (which opens today, Friday March 9th across the country . See it, its a great movie.). We decided to not send a takedown notice for this clip. In fact, there were several of the clips we didnt send notices for.. Again, as a learning experience.

The comments on this page could potentially be very interesting. As you can note, we sent takedown notices for clips 4 through 13.

silverskates216 (1 week ago)
youtube deleted 4& up so i have to re-upload it. It may take some time.

(Reply) (Spam)

(15 hours ago)
can you re-upload the rest ? because the website that the links go to don’t allow us to upload even one file at once . please ?

(Reply) (Spam)

(13 hours ago)
I tired to re-upload and it won’t work. Plus that would endanger my account. If you message me with details of what the exact problem is I may be able to fix it.

What is interesting from the comments is that the re-upload didn’t work. Does this mean Youtube is proactively filterning content ? Of course the user could be lying or just had tech problems. Who knows. But if they are proactively filtering, they lose ALL of their Safe Harbor protections.

The 2nd point of interest is that we didn’t send takedown notices for parts 2 or 3 of the movie, but they are now gone. Why would the user take it down but leave up the first clip ? Did somebody at Youtube take it on themselves to take it down ? No idea. Again, if they did, goodbye to all the Safe Harbor protections.

Then there is the link by the user to rapidshare for the movie (which hopefully will be down by the time you read this). Is this the start of a trend ? Use Youtube as the “catalog” or a way to create traffic, but host on a 3rd party ? Time will tell.

And it appears they are now removing pages they had content that has been removed for whatever reason. Has anyone noticed this ?

One more thing.

It may suprise you that I dont have a problem with what Rapidshare is doing. I see them as legit, while you know how I feel about Gootube. Why ? Because Rapdishare is really a hosting service. They have customers who pay for the service. They dont create an index of the videos they host. They don’t try to create traffic for the infringing videos they host. . They do what a hosting service does. They host.

If by chance someone uploads pirated content to them, they truly don’t see it. They didn’t create a napster/youtube like environment where you can search for any video. The video is only available when the uploader publishes the link.

Rapidshare deserves every bit of the protection the DMCA Safe Harbors offer. If we see our content with a rapidshare link published, as it is in this case. We will send the takedown notice and move on.

Contrast that with Gootube that flaunts their position that when pirated content is hosted on Youtube or Google Video, they are legally safe. Think that might send a message that encourages their users to upload pirated content ? Think maybe people who ignore the copyright warnings prior to uploaded pirated content might feel safe doing so because of Google’s public position ? Or the fact that they see pirated content all over Youtube and Google Video, so it must be ok to ignore the warnings ?

I know a hosting company when I see one. Google Video and Youtube are not hosting companies.

ads saying dont upload pirated content

77 thoughts on “Subpoenas and Gootube

  1. Pingback: Viacom Suing Google for… 1 Billion Dollars!

  2. Seems Viacom followed your advice and sued GooTube for a $1 Billion…..I can see somewhere in SouthPark, Cartman crying out loud….RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!!

    Comment by cihan karaca -

  3. Wow, the 92% rating is pretty impressive. This was playing at the Angelika, or maybe it was the Magnolia, but we (not I) decided to see Blades of Glory instead. I regret that.

    Also, in terms of piracy. I download TV shows of torrent sites. This is because I live in an apartment complex that has a 5-year contract with SBC. This means that all of my services (phone, internet, tv) MUST go through them. This is idiotic, as I do not face the appropriate direction to be eligible for TV (SBC goes through DirectTV). I have no regular cable options. So my only option is to download Lost and The Office on torrent.

    Even though I do have some season-passes on iTunes, I still download the SAME shows off torrents. This is because: (a) I get the show the same night, if not before the USA showing AND (b) I can often get higher-quality than on the iTMS (ridiculous). Some shows (HBO) are not yet on iTunes, and I download these as well.

    I do feel bad for downloading these shows, but I feel that it is my only option. I also find myself buying the box-sets for these TV shows on DVD. However, the AppleTV has proved very useful for my setup (especially since I can play 3rd party codecs on it).

    Comment by Mark (Not Cuban) -

  4. Curious about the contradictions in your two most recent posts. You\’re against your content being streamed on YouTube but for it being streamed by an internet radio station? I think there are worthwhile differences, but I\’d like to hear your take on it.

    Comment by travel--tour -

  5. Mark,

    …\”Is this the start of a trend ? Use Youtube as the \”catalog\” or a way to create traffic, but host on a 3rd party ? Time will tell.\”

    In the case of users \”aggregating\” incomplete parts of videos to form a whole and complete episode or movie, I have been aware of the site, which in itself claims to be a \”TV Episode Portal.\” This website actually hosts links to hundreds (if not thousands) of full-length cartoons, sitcoms, movies, anime, movies, and music videos, which are all hosted on various 3rd party sites. YourTvLinks simply compiles the various pieces of video from a multitude of 3rd party video hosting sites, and aggregates the links together on one convenient link page.

    I am highly surprised that this \”service\” is still available and fully functional, as it has been for quite some time now. These aggregated sites could pose a larger threat in the long-run of copyrighted video material, with so many small video hosting sites being established after the sudden explosion of YouTube. It may be hard for IP content-owners to track down the source of every single video on every video hosting website in cyberspace.

    Your thoughts?

    – Brandon

    Comment by Brandon -

  6. Subpoenas are for finding evidence that materially affects a lawsuit, aren\’t they? Isn\’t it an abuse of the legal system to subpoena records if you have no lawsuit intent and are merely curious?

    Comment by Zeke Tremendicous -

  7. Youtube is proactively filtering content to an extent. If it removes a certain video, the user is then unable to reupload it (even if he/she renames the file). I am not sure exactly how YouTube does this, but it does not seem that it would not be too difficult and that there are likely multiple ways to block off reuploads.

    Comment by Mike Joyce -

  8. Mark,

    You predicted all of this a couple of months ago.

    -you were dead on.

    Comment by Mike -

  9. Mark,

    A question for you:

    You\’ve suggested that were Youtube to do \”filtering\” of some sort, in order to exclude content which violates the copyrights of others, that this would expel them from the \”safe harbor\” provided to service providers by the DMCA. (As others pointed out, responding to explicit \”takedown\” notices by a copyright holder is excluded from filtering).

    I\’m not sure that that analysis holds water. For one thing, it would be asinine in the extreme–if it were the case that actions taken by a service provider to proactively increase compliance with copyrights, actually INCREASED that service providers\’ legal exposure or liability, that would be an absurd result. For another, I\’m aware of no legal decision that has held that active \”filtering\” of user-posted content would expel a service provider from the safe harbor.

    Given all of that, what should \”Gootube\” (or \”yougle\”) do?

    * Nothing other that comply with the \”bare minimum\” DMCA requirements, responding to takedown notices?
    * Improved automatic filtering–various schemes to \”fingerprint\” copyrighted content
    * Manual filtering–no content is allowed until a human verifies (to some level of confidence) that it isn\’t infringing?
    * Increased registration requirements for uploaders–no anonymous/pseudonymous uploads?
    * Shut down completely

    Comment by EngineerScotty -

  10. All Viacom issues aside, it is clear to me that Google founder Larry Page knew the material in YouTube was infringing on copyright, some of it stolen and clearly posted without permission, yet he still purchased the company. To me that seems like clear purchase of stolen goods with the intent to make profit off of the goods. Just because it is at such a high level and for so much money doesn\’t make it right. Mr. Page should have thought a little more about the deal before rushing over to Denny\’s to sign a $1.65 Billion dollar agreement. He should have waited until ALL of the copyright issues were resolved prior to even considering a purchase. At best, he could have signed some kind of Good faith agreement like the agreement Google has formed with other companies, assuming a sale but based on conditions.

    Now that YouTube is officially part of Google, it is an open target for suit and will definitely open the doors for other company\’s to sue. The entire issue could cost Google half of their current stock valuation.


    Comment by G P -

  11. Breaking news– Today\’s Wall St. Journal headline reads:


    Viacom is asking for $1 BILLION DOLLAR$ IN DAMAGES!

    …And so the battle begins…

    Stay tuned for more gooey details from the frontline here in the Rotten Apple…

    Comment by Alex Goldblum -

  12. Shut down Napster, Morpheus comes along, shut down Morpheus, Limewire comes along, shut down Limewire, Bittorrent comes along.

    So, shut down Youtube, something else is going to come along that provides this content. My message to Corporate America: \”Stop trying to close the barn door, the horse left the barn a long time ago, and is never coming back.\”

    How about putting some of your time and effort into creating an easy, cheap way for people to legally share copywritten material?

    Comment by Patrick B. -

  13. Thanks for another great insight into the mind of a mogul. Given that you are experimenting with approaches rather than just going out and asking GooTube for a KiloMegaBuck like Viacom, I think Google should take you out for a nice cold beer and a chili cheese dog.

    Comment by Joe Duck -

  14. Mark,

    I have read your opinions with great interest and, boy, I couldn\’t agree more.

    I do not know if you read all of the responses to your blogs, but if you do I need your help. Or, more the point, my son needs your help.

    It seems that he is one of the student that were tagged by the RIAA two years ago for using internet2 to share audio files. I\’m sure you know the story. Well, here is the rest of the story. After compelling Ga Tech to release \”private\” information regading ownership of the IP address, RIAA did file suit. Unfortunately, they did not physically serve my son. They mailed them, regular US mail, to his fraternity house (no, he did not receive them). Now he has received to 2 mailings 2 months later stating a motion for default judgement has been filed for 12 infractions (the original suit against the IP holders had no more than 5 infractions).

    Help! Can you provide some direction? They are going to try and ruin an upstanding young man before he has a chance to get started.

    Bill Malcolm

    Comment by Bill Malcolm -

  15. Mark-

    Can\’t believe you had nothing to say about the Viacom lawsuit against google/youtube. One BILLION dollars. Hoo-fa.

    Comment by Brian -

  16. The page linked in the article now reads:
    This is a private video. If you have been sent this video, please make sure you accept the sender\’s friend request.

    I think this is even more interesting. What action do you have in this case, Mark? Without seeing that the video is, infact, from The Host, can you still issue a takedown? This could be a different trend. We talked about the DMCA a fair bit in one of the security classes at your alma mater (a Kelley class, even), and its long been an interest of mine (I\’ve even received a DMCA notice in my younger years), but I have no idea what the case is here.

    Comment by Ryan Wagner -

  17. Seems Viacom followed your advice and sued GooTube for a $1 Billion…..I can see somewhere in SouthPark, Cartman crying out loud….RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!!

    Comment by MovieWalah -

  18. This just in! Viacom suing You Tube for $1 billion. I can\’t wait to see the outcome of this unfold. Link:

    Comment by greg -

  19. I\’m curious Mark, you of all people should have a clear understanding of the complexity of filtering. How would you propose a filtering design be made to avoid uploading bootleg copies?

    Name filters are meaningless. We all remember the day Napster tried that, change the Eagles to the Eagless and you bypassed the filter.

    Digital fingerprinting, nice idea except were now talking 10 minute or under clips in various formats and time sliced at the whim of the uploader, not like its a 3meg song with one or 2 encoders anymore.

    Content preview, sorry but I cant imagine any realistic way to screen every upload before its published on site. You cant realistically expect any group of people to sit watching all the uploads and all of them know clip a is Joe Public proud his kid hit a 3 pointer at the buzzer while clip b is some tv stations clip of the same play or clip c is some outtake of some drama schools senior project versus clip d coming from some trash low budget direct to video release hollywood is so fond of these days.

    Your supposed to be a technologiy wiz kid from the pre dot bomb era. How would you filter the content if you ran Youtube without having to hire 10 thousand foreigners to watch ever clip to guess whether its just too good to not be infringing.

    Lets see if you can answer that before the next time you get fined from the NBA for your comments about the ref\’s again 😉

    Comment by TxRoadDawg -

  20. Looks like Viacom is taking it to a new level, suing Google for 1 billion, ouch! Story here: See the story:

    Comment by SorenG -

  21. Hey Mark… I enjoy your takes on all of this. I used to earn a living writing music, so copyright infringement issues were personal for me, for a little while, anyway.

    You strike me as a guy with a knack for seeing what\’s \”next\” before everyone else does…

    So – here we are – downloading is here, large numbers of people are getting most if not all their content this way (I don\’t remember the last physical CD I purchased), and copyright issues abound.

    RIAA has chosen to shove their heads in the sand and say \”No, you will all do business the way we want you to do it, or we will sue your @$$.\” Silly. They\’re fighting the last war.

    What\’s next, Mark? There\’s an entire distribution and retail industry out there that is quickly becoming obselete. What\’s the opportunity here?

    Comment by Tony -

  22. Imagine if google offered for every company/content owner that asks to have its video taken down a few cents everytime a video is watched?

    Something like adsense, but for videos, something that would show a little commercial based on the viewers profile or search string or the video\’s keywords.

    Wouldnt that solve the whole problem?

    Wouldnt companies WANT their content to be online this way?

    I bet they would. Because looks like the video will get to YouTube ANYWAY the way it is now. And the cost of taking down notices and all the hassle is tiny compared to the revenue you would miss this way (assuming you wouldnt be canibalizing the sales of your main product by having it in Youtube of course, which is a big discussion by itself).

    Advertisers wouldnt mind either. They would actually LOVE IT: a new targeted channel to show their ads and interrupt us while we procrastinate and pretend we work. There is no escape anymore folks.

    Once GooTube kicked off something like this, there would be an influx of content to it, as hundreds of companies would try to monetize on this.

    And considering that we KNOW that Google knows if the content is pirated or not, it would be easy to prevent the bad guys from making money out of content that is not theirs. Or even worse: if you had uploaded pirated content, would you like to ave a way to be linked to your PayPal account and to receive money from pirated content? Probably not. The advertisers wouldnt care, but the content owners would of course (and perhaps google could even have a feature to cancel your account if you got money from content that was not yours). You wouldnt be able to milk the system for long.

    But wait.

    It\’s not plain TV ads I am talking about. I am talking about laser beam focused ads, just like Adsense. Ads sensitive to the content of the video and also to the user watching it (based on their usage profile of GooTube or the site they were coming from or their search string…so many ways!)

    So if I went to YouTube watch the Mavs\’ latest highlights I would be presented with a 5 sec or so video before the actual highlights. The ads would be something related to myself, like acne treatment and breath problems. But if it was Mark watching the video, then GooTube would show an ad about Gulfstream jets, islands for sale in the Pacific or whatever billionaires would be interested in. 5 seconds only. Flash some frames before the main course, and that\’s it, no more, no less. Harmless. A bit of brainshare in exchange for some cents.

    If you stop and think, Google knows more about each one of us than most of our friends do. Think about all the searches you\’ve done. They are pure dream information for marketers. GooTube is in the position to match the two things together not only on webpages but on video too.

    Would this pizz people off? Maybe. But tell me you dont feel enticed to click on some adsense links now and then, considering how focused they are to what you are searching or reading? I know I do.

    The obstacle among others is this: can the little guy advertising on GooTube produce a video commercial? He probably cant now, unless it\’s lower quality content. Can it be meaningful in X seconds (where X is the time it takes NOT to piss people off and drive traffic off the system)? This is another issue. I bet it can (specially if the end of the video shows more info about the ad).

    But the fact is: in the few seconds before the video starts, we have all our focus on this little 3 inches by 3 inches space on our screens. If there was a way to non intrusively show an ad, Google would be effectively changing the whole way the tv/video advertising industry works, democratizing video advertising completely. Isnt that fantastic.

    Think about this: when we are dozing off on the sofa staring at the TV our brains are almost gone. We are on automatic. When you are using a machine that you need to interact all the time like a computer, you are talking about a much higher quality brainshare!

    And that whole thing would also help the little guy.

    In fact I just had an idea while typing this. Stay with me.

    What if space on specific videos could be auctioned, just like Adwords? Imagine Gillette and Coke trying to outbid each other to show their spot ad in your user generated video, mostly because the content YOU created is awesome? That would make so many things possible, but most importantly, it would give a big incentive for content to be created and monetized.

    Ok let\’s talk about one of the objections: people will say \”oh but I wouldnt want my info to be used to target ads back at me, thats an invasion of privacy\”. Well. Last time I checked Gmail\’s number of users was huge and increasing. That privacy battle is lost. We already accepted a little bribe in exchange for a better mail client. Now we are giving a little bit extra in exchange for content that we wouldnt have. And it\’s all in our own benefit: watching more targeted ads that in turn will help our bosses sell and make more money so that they can employ us)…

    Anyway…These GooTube posts can be fun too.

    Comment by Henrique Valle -

  23. Headline today:
    Viacom in $1 bln copyright suit vs Google, YouTube

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Media conglomerate Viacom Inc. said on Tuesday that it was suing Google Inc. and its Internet video-sharing site YouTube for more than $1 billion over unauthorized use of its programming online.

    The lawsuit, the biggest challenge to date to Google\’s ambitions to make YouTube into a major vehicle for advertising and entertainment, accuses the Web search leader and its unit of \”massive intentional copyright infringement.\”

    Viacom filed the suit with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking more than $1 billion in damages and an injunction against further violations.

    Viacom contends that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of its programming have been uploaded onto YouTube\’s site and viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

    Full Article:

    Comment by Chris Norman -

  24. Mark,

    You have done such insightful work and research regarding Google and You Tube that I wonder if you will be called to testify in Viacom\’s $1 Billion lawsuit filed against Google and You Tube.

    Get your research in order, I\’m sure you will be hearing from someone on the Plantiff\’s side.

    Viacom has undoubtedly been sitting on the sidelines, waiting patiently, collecting data, and building their case. They probably were building it prior to the Google acquisition. It is a good thing the You Tube guys already cashed out. Lets hope they sold a good chunk of their google stock as a legal precedent setting case like this will not go over well on Wall Street.

    Look at the bright side, when You Tube is shut down, you will have a test case in Google to show why you think the stock market is so fickle.


    Comment by Chris -

  25. I am part of a independent film company that is about to put out it\’s first of many indi films. As having control of how, what when, and where you make a lot more money and you control your direction. The big problem is you work twice as hard so you can not be a slacker. We will be dropping a feature called Envy starring Ray J, Lisaraye, Az, maia Campbell and Chico Debarge we shot on the George Lucas developed HD camera the first indi to do so. All in Detroit the film may be for you or not but the process the control and the money at the end of the day is well worth IT. Go to to check it out!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Shawnte\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ -

  26. Those jerks. I can\’t believe they would promote your movie like that. And what about the commenter desperately seeking to see more than just four minutes… how awful. I bet that type of excitement won\’t help get some people to actually pay to see the movie. Boy are you getting screwed.

    Comment by JDA -

  27. Nice pick up on the conversation exchange, and as we all know knowledge if king. Subpoenas this folks seems like a smart idea to capture this knowledge.

    Comment by PPC Management -

  28. Mark,
    I do agree with you..getting user information from Gootube will definitely help in understanding the psyche of the users who deal and handle stuff which is copyrighted and pirated.
    But you do have to keep this in mind that it will not stop them in uploading content to these websites. NetUsers today are very smart..they can rename the videos and set different tags and distribute links and embed videos to their site and publish links to the entire world. That would make it difficult for companies to find copyrighted and pirated content.
    To deal with hacks in your system, you might want to be a hacker and break the system in order to protect it.


    Comment by Premal -

  29. i have to agree with george in post 6. it\’s not that i want to watch a full length movie on a 3 inch screen or on my computer moniter, cause i certainly don\’t. i use gootube, as a way of filtering out all the crap that comes out in theaters and on the TV nowadays. it\’s also a way to share with friends things that you think are funny, thus making them want to watch the show.

    Comment by Aaron -

  30. I don\’t obviously have a definitive answer for the question \”why do they upload copyrighted contents?\”; however, speaking for myself, I can tell you why I sometimes watch copyrighted contents on the net: simply because there\’re no other ways to watch them.
    In several countries in Europe it is simply not possible to watch, for example, CNN or BCC reportages, NBA/NHL/MLB games, or some successful tv-series (I\’m thinking of Battlestar Galactica in this moment).
    The problem is that there\’s a good demand for these kind of contents, and people willing to pay for, but no legal offer. The net makes it possible to distribute these contents easily and cheaply, but content producers simply decide not to work on this opportunity.

    Comment by Filippo -

  31. I love Google Video and YouTube. They give me instant access to content that is not available anywhere else. Almost all of the content that I view on these sites can\’t be bought at the store, not showing in the theater, not on the shelf at the video store etc. I don\’t know if its copyright & I don\’t care. That doesn\’t even cross my mind when I\’m watching youtube.

    On YouTube I just watched a performance of \”Blowing in the Wind\” by Dylan on WBC TV from 1963. I\’m pretty sure there is a copyright on that. But I challenge anyone to go through the proper legal avenues to obtain and watch that performance.

    My cable provider gives me access to legal on-demand music performaces. I get about 20 choices. With YouTube, Google, etc I get a million choices.

    Its futile to try and shut these sites down or restrict them. The same content will just pop up somewhere else (it already has).

    Comment by Jeff in Dallas -

  32. Mark,

    First off, love the blog, been following it for quite sometime.

    As previous readers have posted, I too have been getting tired of this \”gootube\” rant. This post was honestly very refreshing and showed a lot of method to your madness.
    Much appreciated. Please let us know how this all unravels!!

    Also, post something about how good our Mavs are doing 17 in a row!!! Largest home loss for the lakers in how many years!? Great job!

    Comment by JT -

  33. what is meant in my previous post was would taking it down in such a situation violate the safe harbor condition.

    Comment by superdave -

  34. I have a questio for gootube, if a random user flags a video because it has coppyrighted material but that user is not the copyright owner, is youtube still obligated to take it down? Does taking it down in such a fashion violate the DMCA?

    Comment by superdave -

  35. i think the continuous \’gootube\’ posts are important…copyright issues will continue to be an issue on the internet……right now the only people enjoying this are the lawyers….and they won\’t be in a hurry to \’fix\’ things…why would they??

    Comment by kev richardson -

  36. Mark,

    As far as them proactively filtering the posts to Gootube–I frequently upload videos of a friend and I playing guitar to youtube and it asks us for tags. What if they simply made it impossible to upload anything based on certain tags. As an example, if a user uploaded and tagged a video with \”the host,\” the actors names, anything along those lines, the video would just be held until it was reviewed–very similar to your comments on this site. That way, they could review it and clearly see that it is copywritten material.

    I do think those subpoenas are a great idea. If nothing else, you can start a buzz letting people know that they aren\’t as safe as they may feel.


    Comment by Naples Real Estate -

  37. Maybe Google just thinks they are above the law since their market cap is well over $100 billion. They probably think this gives them free license to do whatever they want.

    If Google really cared about obeying DCMA then they\’d have each \”producer\” who uploads a video clip provide accurate address/contact information. Google could then cross-reference with some infoUSA or Dun/Bradstreet database. However this would scare off alot of customers, especially the ones intent on doing illegal uploads.

    The problem for Google is that they wouldn\’t make as much money doing it the legal way. They remind me of Jesse James in many ways. Jesse probably thought the other bank customers were crazy for just earning 2-3% interest. Jesse James found a way to make a larger yield on his banking investments. So has Google and they\’re no different than Jesse James.

    Comment by Alex Degaston -

  38. Mark,

    I consider Google Video and YouTube relatively harmless when compared with Morpheus. Why did you choose to fund the creater of Morpheus\’s legal battle? Why have you decided to attack something you seem to have supported in the past? One would think you were strongly in favor of piracy after funding Morpheus in MGM v. Grokster at the supreme court level. What has changed? You now seem strongly apposed to something you once supported greatly. I see what you are saying now, but actions speak louder than words.

    Go Mavs,

    Comment by Matt -

  39. Mark, your a bloody genius.

    I only hope to emulate you one day. You have such a hands on approach that I admire extremely.

    Please post your findings on the blog, I would love to hear about them. Also don\’t give up the fight, I love hearing your point of view regarding GooTube.

    Comment by Alex -

  40. #37: Good points, but I believe Goo Tube has peaked and good content is looking for new places to be.

    Comment by mike -

  41. The anti-YouTube argument makes sense, but there are more than just one front that it can be fought on. Knowing that people are willing to pay for the experience of viewing amovie in a theatre should (and seems to) encourage producers to post multiple trailers and generate word-of-mouth campaigns. YouTube is not monetizing its services right now for the simple fact that it doesn\’t have propietary ownership of much of its user-generated content right now. Items like the BBC will begin to add revenues, but \”Ask A Ninja\” can easily move his shtick to Once they have enough content lined up in their corner (and kudos for Viacom for stepping away), YouTube can dominate the community and the eye-balls that it draws.

    Comment by Ayal Rosenthal -

  42. I like your approach to this, in terms of trying to find out info on why people are doing it, what motivates them, and also how GOOG is handling it. Interesting post.

    Comment by maui -

  43. Your comments: Mark, I get it…and go get\’em. You are big enough and have a voice
    to do it, many folks whose work is being pirated do not.In addition
    to gootube posts, could you let us know what else is on your mind 🙂
    Your insights are always appreciated.

    Comment by J Sandifer -

  44. Mark,
    right on about hosting.. seeing as i own a hosting company.
    I have to say, unless you become the RIAA or similar.. I\’m not sure your going to make an impact. (even though you are just trying to learn the process)I think to some degree we are back in the 2001 days of putting content out there. I\’ll give you a good example site that I\’m talking about

    I\’m sure the above site was thought of b/c of the you tube\’s out there. Im sorry man im not a big fan of stealing either.

    Its AMAZING. to see the big balls some of these guys have.

    Comment by Mike Verinder -

  45. Tell you what – I LOVE GOOTUBE.

    Yesterday I wanted some new music for my car, nothing serious, no great audio experience. So I went straight to Gootube, entered the titles, and there they were: music videos galore! Agreed, the sound quality is only similar to the cassette recordings in the 80s, but heck – until four years ago I did not even have a CD player in my car.

    Anyway, I played the videos while recording the music track on the PC, then saved the files as MP3. Voila! New music for the car. Cost: $0.00

    Isn\’t it plain beautiful?

    Comment by Mark -

  46. Remember when Lucas Film sent a letter to youtube to take down content? You are not the first to ask for content to be taken down. Why don\’t you go call them up LucasFilm and ask them their experience. But oh thats right. You don\’t remember a YouTube before google bought it. Now its your obsession.

    Bottom line is that google doesn\’t have some grand scheme to steal content. They are running the same code that youtube has always run. Just because youtube bought them doesn\’t mean they morphed into some monster that eats copywrited movies. They ALWAYS had copywrited content. Nothing has changed. At all.

    Comment by Brant Tedeschi -

  47. Sounds like a good idea. Why not take advantage of Google\’s extreme data hoarding. They\’ll probably make an ordeal out of it. Worst case you\’ll get some link bait and help out the blog.

    Comment by loaders -

  48. Any way you could puts ads that can\’t be avoided in each video so it doesn\’t matter whether people download for free?

    Comment by danny -

  49. Mark, you essentially say that if YouTube were to begin removing content at the request or preemptively that it may eventually become a vertical search engine for content hosted elsewhere. Are you aware of sites such as and if so, what is your opinion on these services?

    Comment by Doug Williams -

  50. If YouTube removed all of the copyrighted material from its site today, how quickly do you think users will stop going there? Do you think it would even be in the top 30 internet sites after a few months?

    Google bought a \”content destination\” that is popular because of the illegal material — sure there is some great user generated content on the site but this is not the prime driver of the audience.

    Comment by Bob Smith -

  51. Hey Mark, one of the comments stuck out when I was reading this… The guy who said something about wishing he could watch the Canucks play. Is there anybody out there that is doing the type of thing you did with but with video feeds? I think the same fan who would want to hear the Indiana game on the radio would also want to watch that game live from anywhere the world. Is this a possibility and are there already companies attempting this?

    Comment by Brian Laks -

  52. Comment #22 has it exactly right. I said it before, where is the outrage from creative individuals, from small time copyright holders? The only complaints I hear are from giant corporations and billionaires. Which is fine, you guys have a right to protect the content that you own, but just don\’t try and make it seem like you\’re trying to stand up for the little guy. You\’re looking out for yourself, meanwhile, the people who actually create things for a living are busy creating things for a living.

    Comment by Tim -

  53. The technology (or at least in some form) is available now to keep the files off their websites. Most of the Gootube types in the world are using some sort of centralized storage network, whether it\’s EMC, 3Par, Netapp, HP, IBM..etc.., all the Gootube\’s of the world need to do is investigate FPolicy server software. Fpolicy servers scan all incoming file requests and based on screening rules allow access, create, delete..etc..

    The problem is most fpolicy servers are for CIFS or NFS file access (web apps that may be using a SAN, this won\’t help), for file manipulation. If Gootube really wanted to stop it they could or they would assist by helping the Fpolicy app makers of the world make their products better able to detect this type of content.

    Comment by Buddy Lee -

  54. My account was disabled because I had supposedly uploaded copyrighted content. I\’m assuming someone sent takedown notices being mean or funny. I only upload videos that I made with my own camera, and they are of useless content… like me and my friends in Vegas. I emailed them and said they couldn\’t re-enable my account because I\’ve violated copyright laws. Go figure that one…

    Comment by DJ Jeremy -

  55. I love your posts about GooTube.

    Comment by JoeD -

  56. Ashwin: Those are the kinds of anti-YouTube arguments that I hope will go away.

    Most of the pirated content on YouTube isn\’t owned by creative people… it\’s owned by corporate drones and their stockholders. Actual creative people generally benefit from their exposure on the \’Tube, since it increases their visibility. That doesn\’t mean that they aren\’t damaged indirectly, if we assume that YouTube has a tangible impact on corporate profits that are used to pay creatives. But (a) that assumption is pretty shaky, and (b) it\’s a significantly more nuanced situation than the one you\’ve proposed.

    In fact, there\’s an entire class of low-budget, unknown, disconnected creative types whose futures depend upon YouTube. All that traffic, legit or not, gives them an opening they\’d never have otherwise. The audience can come for the Stephen Colbert clips, and stay for the rest.

    Comment by Roger Benningfield -

  57. Awesome! I like how you are doing this the right way and testing the systems instead of just attacking them.

    Please keep us informed on what you find!

    Comment by Mark Barrera -

  58. Mark, as for a technical explanation of why youtube can block a re-upload, they probably record a MD5 checksum (essentially, fingerprint of that *precise* file, subtract a second of video and it changes) of violating material and just block something w/ that checksum.

    So they\’re using notification to block further upload of that item, which seems to be consistent w/ safe harbor as far as I can tell.

    Comment by geedeck -

  59. Hopefully, you genuine curiosity will be rewarded via the subpoenas. The part about evidence suggesting the hosts might forfeit their DMCA safe harbors does sound less about curiosity and a bit in the realm of \’nailing\’em.\’

    Comment by Thomason -

  60. Ok Mark you don\’t like the gootube-I get it, you hate how they allow others to pirate content. If thats the case, then you should be all over(in a good way)a website called, they are a LEGAL streaming video/tv provider and a real \’little guy\’ in the biz. They just got a deal with Lionsgate films so hopefully they\’re on their way to being bigger. Take care, EL

    Comment by E.L. -

  61. I was about to simply stop reading when I saw the title of this post since I think most of us agree that Mark\’s been beating this GooTube thing to death, but after reading it I have to admit it was quite interesting.

    Look, anyone with a right mind knows good and well that GooTube is filtering it\’s content.

    They are picking and choosing how they do this in hopes that they will gain substantial contracts from the original providers of the content while temporarily hiding behind Safe Harbors.

    As far as google pushing people to upload copyrighted content… no they are not, but they are simply doing nothing to stop it. Besides a little disclaimer that everyone knows means nothing on the upload page, there isn\’t anything that prevents me. Basically they\’re publicy turning a blind eye to the situation again in hopes of coming to deals with the original artists.

    I do find your little experiment quite interesting. Please keep up posted on any info that comes back. But please, not every post needs to be about GooTube. I\’m starting to think Mark better start watching his back. The GooTube mafia is probably going to be looking for him. 🙂 Remember, this is hundreds of millions if not billions we\’re talking about. I can\’t imagine any company would be happy about someone personally trying to take that away from them.


    Comment by News Blog -

  62. Great detail and rationale for your plans, Mark. Interesting.

    The technical legalities are very clear with copyright and related issues.

    From a marketing or what you actually are losing viewpoint, how are you/your company hurt by pirated movie clips being posted to places like YouTube (assuming those who are posting the pirated clips not earning money from the posting)?

    Will those clips — even if the entire movie is shown — stop people from paying to see the movie? The quality of being on a computer vs on screen is no comparison. The big screen (theater and TV) is so much better.

    Wouldn\’t pirated clips actually help promote the movie — by exposing it to people typical marketing might not reach?

    I\’m thinking of a comparison with the Grateful Dead — who encouraged concert fans to record the concerts on their own.

    While I can definitely understand the legal side, I can also see some benefit to the other side. Thoughts?
    Thank you.

    Comment by Mike Driehorst -

  63. Hey Mark, I would love to be the one – (I\’m sure) you already have more than one.

    – But I would like to be the one, to anaylize this data for you. I could develop the questions, and explore the answers. I have experience with creating and anylizing questions and answers.

    – Please contact me, Richard B

    Comment by Pallet Rack -

  64. I am interested to see how this plays out. As the internet continues to explode it is very hard to police the proliferation of copyrighted material. How can you control it? How can you police it?

    Comment by Mortgage Refinance Pro -

  65. Mark,

    I think that the primary people doing this are bored teenagers. They don\’t think that they\’re doing anything wrong, because more than likely, they downloaded the movie off a torrent site or newsgroups anyways. A movie uploaded to youtube or google video isn\’t high-quality, they\’re just doing it to watch it and get the gist of it, not for the cinematic experience. I don\’t think that their motivations are malicious, they just want to be able to say that they saw the movie, and have an opinion on it. Just like downloading mp3s, the point isn\’t stealing, the point is \”keeping up with the scene\” so you\’re informed. Odds are people would delete them once they got tired of it, if hard drive space wasn\’t an issue. Gootube just saves people the hassle of deleting it. It\’s like watching TV – no ownership, just viewership.

    The creative-owners issue, then is how to get paid off all this… perhaps if a licensing agreement could be worked out where a production company would post the first 30 minutes of their movie, and then provide a link to see the rest of it for a cheaper-than-a-dvd fee – maybe $5? I think that people would sign up for that. But, if the audience is teenagers… maybe not.

    Good luck with the demographic study, it will be interesting to hear the results!

    Comment by Jon Janego -

  66. Curious about the contradictions in your two most recent posts. You\’re against your content being streamed on YouTube but for it being streamed by an internet radio station? I think there are worthwhile differences, but I\’d like to hear your take on it.

    Comment by sew -

  67. Hm… okay, this is an anti-YouTube argument that actually makes sense to me. I\’m not sure I agree, but there\’s a strong, logical basis for debate there. The Rapidshare compare/contrast actually has the potential to take this discussion to a higher level.

    Comment by Roger Benningfield -

  68. I dont understand why people have a problem with what Mark is trying to do.

    1. Creative people around the world create content to make a living
    2. People steal this content and post it on youtube.
    3. Google pays Chad and Steven 1.6 billion dollars for traffic generated with content they do not own
    4. Copyright owners and creative people get paid $0

    Am i missing something here?? Go after them mark.

    If chad and steven distribue their 1.6b to EVERY copyright owner who\’s video has been viewed, then maybe mark should stop his crusade.

    Comment by ashwin -

  69. I\’m not sure if there\’s someone at Magnolia I should contact about this, but Bonzai Media–an arm of the notorious Red Sun DVD bootlegging operation–has put out a version of The Host. I found this out by mistakenly picking up a copy myself in San Francisco at Amoeba Records, not realizing there was an upcoming US release & assuming it was a legitimate import.

    It may not seem like a big deal, but someone\’s recently reported seeing a bunch of bootlegged DVDs from the same company at FYE & Suncoast, so whoever\’s in charge of that sort of thing at Magnolia may want to call around and make sure copies of The Host aren\’t lying on the shelves.

    Looking forward to going out to see it with my girlfriend tonight! We\’ve been waiting for a chance to see this for months…

    Comment by Jonathan Ehrich -

  70. When you were just commenting, well, that was interesting. Now you are in a gun fight, I hope you brought more than just a knife.

    While you are in there mucking about with your subpoenas, if you find any validation to that Pho List post you made last October — the one that suggested Google made prior arrangements with the largest media companies in a ploy to monetize some online content without paying royalties — well, I hope you post that information here.

    Whew, doggie!

    Comment by Scott Yates -

  71. Mark,

    Great post but I think there is a fundamental point being missed – monetizing digital content across multiple platforms…

    Although YouTube uploaders often violate copyright, let\’s face it – if someone really wanted to get a movie they could find it on BitTorrent, buy a pirated DVD in Chinatown, or find it on other video sites like Veoh etc.

    I think the fundamental problem is content owners and producers relying on traditional distribution methods. But now with IPTV, VoD, mobile phone content, video iPods, PSPs… the list goes on.

    I grew up in Vancouver but now live in London, England. I would love to watch the Canucks ice hockey games over here but there is no way… why don\’t the content owners further monetize their digital assets by purveying them on the web? I would pay to watch that. I\’m sure there are Mavericks fans across the world who would do so as well!


    Comment by Parry -

  72. Mark,

    I am a pretty regular uploaded on Youtube through various aliases. I can only speak for myself, but I simply ignore the warnings when I post pirated content and just post it. I don\’t think I\’m doing anything wrong. Again, I can only speak for myself, but the way me and my friends (both real and web) ultimately end up buying the type of stuff we take the time to upload onto the web. If anything, I view Youtube as a quality filter….

    I feel that these type of services ultimately are a positive service for people who are putting out quality work. When I upload a video from a TV show or a movie that is funny, interesting, etc – that produces a small blip on the radar for that show. My friends or others will watch the clip. If there seems to be a trend – my friends will then take in the show. To me, I feel like it\’s watching an extended movie/tv trailer. Even if I watch the whole thing on one of these services, I\’ll usually buy/rent/watch the real thing on a device that actually provides me with the quality aesthetic that streaming video lacks. If you make something good, piracy can\’t ruin it.

    That being said, I only speak for myself and the observations that I see through my circle of friends. I understand your gripes with these services. I really respect you for trying to really learn what is going on in the minds of people that do these things. But remember, regardless of what Gootube is about or after – it\’s still all about the user. The user is the key to everything.

    Comment by George -

  73. I do hope you publish your findings as I would also be interested to know the reasons people choose to upload copyrighted content. I have a feeling that it\’s not to be destructive, but rather to share humor, happiness, or information with others they feel would benefit from this information. Though, this is an assumption and would love to have thre real facts.

    Comment by Tyler -

  74. get \’em! this form of stealing needs a stigma that will spread throughout the masses. people are so ignorant as to what they are actually doing when they steal content. as a grad student, I\’ve enountered other students who steal music. and they have the quirkiest methods for justification… ugh… go Mark. (oh, and go Mavs)

    Comment by greg -

  75. The Gootube stuff isn\’t your most entertaining work, that\’s for sure, but I like the idea of this research project on which you\’re embarking. The only way to get visibility is to get in there and look.

    I\’m actually writing more because of comments you\’ve made about the cost of takedown notices. Does Google not have systems in place for publishers to identify their content? If not, isn\’t something like a takedown notice a fill in the blanks situation?

    I realize these might be naive questions but it would help some of us understand your situation.

    Comment by Clyde Smith -

  76. Mark – again an inciteful post. I know some people \”just don\’t get it\” yet – but you are making sense re:Google/YouTube and Safe Harbor. Others will figure it out eventually, but don\’t wait for them – continue to carry the battle.

    I recently upload a video to Googletube for the first time – have you ever done that personally? They make it pretty easy to ignore the warnings.


    Comment by Rob La Gesse -

  77. Can we please stop with Google & YouTube schtick? I used to really like this blog…


    Comment by Clint Kirby -

Comments are closed.