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AU Report: Online Video at Risk of Private Censorship

January 3rd, 2008 by Dean Jansen

The Center for Social Media at American University recently released a report on fair use and internet media titled: Recut, Reframe, Recycle.

The report looks at a variety of examples of online media that are all eligible for fair use, which is the section of US copyright law that allows creators to freely use copyrighted work, under specific circumstances. While the authors note copyright as a generally positive thing for creators, they fear automated copyright protection is a threat to legal (fair) uses of these materials.

These overreaching practices are another byproduct of a centralized approach to online video.

Unfortunately, this emerging, participatory media culture is at risk, with new industry practices to control piracy. Large content holders such as NBC Universal and Viacom, and online platforms such as MySpace and Veoh are already crafting agreements on removing copyrighted material from the online sites. Legal as well as illegal copying could all too easily disappear.

The co-authors, Professors Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, will discuss their findings at a Monday panel on digital rights management, at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show Monday, Jan. 7 in Las Vegas, NV.

Report Link
Press Release Link

3 Responses to “AU Report: Online Video at Risk of Private Censorship”

  1. Rich Pearson says:

    I agree 100% with the notion that participatory media is at risk and enthusiastically applaud the study and the subsequent discussions;however, we need to move past guidelines and provide publishers with contextual, web-wide visibility of where their content is appearing. This information will enable them to post their distribution policies or rules of use for the public to see – in effect creating a community based marketplace for online content.

    Disclaimer in that I work for Attributor which is building solutions like the one mentioned above. You can read more on our blog http://attributor.com/blog/?p=27

  2. Dean Jansen says:

    Rich,

    That is very interesting technology.

    However, this isn’t just a matter of a publisher needing to track content and control it. It’s also a matter of centralization vs decentralization. Creators are at risk of having their content automatically scanned, identified as potentially infringing, and subsequently removed from video hosts, such as Veoh and YouTube. Greater diversity in hosting along with standards, like RSS, are the best defense for these particular issues.

  3. Rich Pearson says:

    Dean,

    I agree that the automatic scan and takedown example is a big issue. As this study has shown, it is not always a yes/no question. The incentives for hosts to monitor content is flawed – they make money off content regardless if it’s a copy or not and respond (often blindly) when someone complains; instead the creators need to have the context of each and every re-use, so when they complain, it is justified .

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