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Give me liberty, or give me a big, fat settlement

It's rumored that, after going out and dropping a wad on YouTube, Google then turned around and negotiated a six-month moratorium with the major media outlets: six months for the search engine-turned-content-provider to deal with the copyright violations running rampant on the phenomenally popular site. Reports of thousands of clips being taken down have followed. Though, to be fair, that's hard to verify given the expansive nature of YouTube's offerings.
November 1, 2006

It’s rumored that, after going out and dropping a wad on YouTube, Google then turned around and negotiated a six-month moratorium with the major media outlets: six months for the search engine-turned-content-provider to deal with the copyright violations running rampant on the phenomenally popular site. Reports of thousands of clips being taken down have followed. Though, to be fair, that’s hard to verify given the expansive nature of YouTube’s offerings.

All this to avoid that most common and moronic of American traditions: the lawsuit. Everyone put down your screwdrivers and reach for the hammers.

It’s honestly hard to feel sorry for media industries when they insist on being this stupid. Lawsuits have not – and will never – stop internet piracy. Nope. Nein. Never. Look at the RIAA’s record. Look at allofmp3.com. They shut down Pirate Bay for a nanosecond, but it’s back.

Sure, they tamed Napster, but that was really just a lesson in how you shouldn’t turn your illegal service into a traceable brand. The average 12-year-old can name 25 sites that have taken its place that you’ve never heard of, and it would boggle your mind if you knew how many non-fiction dvds and hd-quality series are available daily for download that aren’t on P2P sites, available through any online services or on private websites where IPs can be logged and traced. This is a fight that can’t be won in court, or with legislation created by people who use ‘The Google.’

It was obvious at MIP that the industry has graduated to a new lexicon. Words like crowdsourcing (video content of viewers doing things usually bordering on illegal/idiotic) and social networking (trying to get laid/famous through your Internet connection) are creeping into every conversation.

But the media industry can’t, on the one hand, tell users it wants their content to feed the machine, and then on the other, tell them that if they cross some vague line, they may be sued. We want it both ways, and it’s not going to work.

I had an interesting talk with a honcho on the plane back from the market, and he offered the most interesting advice ever uttered by a studio exec. His solution for piracy: honestly try to educate the parents and people paying for the broadband connections about the impact of copyright violation. (In most cases, the downloaders are not the ones footing the bill.) No threats, just real information to go along with sensible, fairly priced alternatives. I’m not sure that will work, but it sounds more reasonable than anything else I’ve heard, and it might be a good start. In order to take the next step in media evolution, we need to find some real solutions – and those never come at the business end of a subpoena.

Brendan Christie
Editor

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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