It’s mine!

It’s no secret that Viacom is suing Youtube over copyright infringement. Lawrence Lessig offers an interesting perspective today that a big reason that Viacom is going the court direction is because they have little chance of getting Congress to update the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In 1998, pretty much no one watched video online. Now everyone does to some capacity. Making updates to this act to protect megacorps now that everyone’s had a taste of fun on Youtube and other sites would be very unpopular politically. Also, there’s fellow giants around today, like Google, that can pay big dollars for lobbyists to make sure strengthening the DMC never happens. Lessig writes:

Congress, of course, is perfectly capable of changing or removing the safe harbor provision to meet Viacom’s liking. But Viacom recognizes there’s no political support for the change it wants. It thus turns to a policy maker that doesn’t need political support — the Supreme Court.

It’s especially ironic to see Viacom protecting their turf so stringently when they benefitted from the very medium they’re trying to control. South Park was discovered as a video passed around from email to email back in ’96. Without the Internet, it likely never would have been made into a television program. Posting clips from the Daily Show only expose it to more people and grow its cable value. Yes, let’s shut down that big bad Internet!


2 Comments on “It’s mine!”

  1. brownell says:

    Hey Andrej, have you seen this theory (it’s on digg right now, so here is a mirror)…

  2. Nat Hillary says:

    YouTube has signed content licensing agreements with a number of content providers (the BBC, for example), so it will be interesting to see what impact that has on their business in the years that it takes this case to come to fruition. It’s not beyond the scope of reason to expect Viacom to withdraw the lawsuit because they lose too much revenue by NOT having content on YouTube! I think this will become more salient as more and more channels go HD too, with YouTube serving as a lo-res teaser to the HD content, and not a replacement.

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