Miro Internet TV Blog - Archive for October, 2008

McCain Campaign Witnesses Dark Side of DMCA

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The DMCA 512 safe harbor provisions are a piece of legislation intended to, “[limit] the liability of the providers of on-line services for copyright infringement by their users(1).” EFF reports this law has been used maliciously to (temporarily) remove official John McCain campaign videos from YouTube.

Essentially, anyone claiming to own the rights to a particular video can at least temporarily derail the content. This is due to part of the DMCA that requires service providers (web hosts, video hosts, etc) to immediately and temporarily take down a video as soon as a copyright complaint is made against it. The intent of this portion of the DMCA is to shield service providers who may be hosting infringing material.

Here’s an example of how it works: Viacom can file a claim when they find an entire episode of the Real World on YouTube. Upon receiving the claim, YouTube must immediately remove the video in question for a minimum of ten days. The video poster also receives a message allowing them a chance to respond. If the claim is disputed, the poster can file a counter-claim and the video in question will be made available once again, after the ten day period passes. Any further dispute over that particular video must be settled directly by the claimant, counter-claimant, and court. This procedure allows YouTube to avoid liability for infringing material hosted on their servers

However, this system has a fatal flaw, in that anyone can make a bogus claim against a piece of legitimately posted media and have it removed for a minimum of ten days. If no action is taken to counter the request, the material will be offline indefinitely. A DMCA request can be sent from anywhere in the world and can easily be spoofed by a malicious party. This loophole is especially significant for activists, politicians, and journalists who may be posting extremely time sensitive material.

The McCain takedowns certainly aren’t the only case of DMCA takedown abuse — opponents of the Church of Scientology have been barraged with totally bogus takedowns that were orchestrated by a subsidiary of the CoS.

Another example: the city of Blackwell, Oklahoma issued a takedown notice against a YouTube video depicting a city police officer macing a man seated on the driver’s side of his car. The video was obtained by the man’s family through the state’s open-records law. No matter the details of the conflict, the video was clearly fair use and was unlawfully taken down at the request of the city. These stories are just a few of many — DMCA takedown requests are extremely easy to make, and if made pseudonymously, they are great tools for overt censorship.

The McCain camp asked for special treatment of the campaign videos, but the request was shot down by YouTube yesterday. The DMCA is a knife that can cut both ways, as John McCain, Obama supporters, and political activists from all camps have seen. The real way to solve the problem is changing the DMCA itself; namely, removing the mandatory ten day waiting period and allowing counter-claimants to immediately restore their media.

(1) DMCA, Wikipedia

Traveling to Birmingham and Atlanta

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

I should post my travel plans more.  On Monday I’ll be in Birmingham, Alabama visiting a friend before driving up to do a panel at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in Atlanta on Tuesday.  Holler.

Free Culture Conference this Weekend

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

If you’re interested in remix culture, digital activism, copyright, open tech, open access to knowledge, and/or free software, then come to the Free Culture Conference. It’s all going down this Saturday and Sunday (Oct 11th & 12th) at UC Berkeley.

Just make sure you register right now — the conference has limited space and was recently boingboinged.

I’ll be there with Miro, a projector, some tee shirts, and a handful of stickers… drop by and say hi!

Building, Building, Building

Monday, October 6th, 2008

You may have noticed that there haven’t been a lot of big updates to Miro or the Miro Guide recently. Don’t worry, it’s the good reason, not the bad one– we’re building major updates that are getting close to launch. First you’ll see a totally revamped Miro Guide, then you’ll get Miro 2.0 (a HUGE step forward) and with Miro 2.0 there will be new features in the Miro Guide that take advantage of new features.

If you’d like to help us test our new toys, take a look at our testing FAQ and dive in!

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