Can’t live with them, can’t live without them, Viacom was unable to convince the judge, writes Julian Clover.
This website, like so many that create original content, suffers from those who think it is perfectly acceptable to take the material and use it on their own website. So we sort of know how Viacom felt when three years ago it took YouTube to court for what it believed to be breach of copyright.
A New York Federal Court judge thought otherwise, to be precise Judge Louis Stanton said YouTube had not broken any law because the Google-owned file sharing website would take down any content that was in breach once it had been alerted. Remember, last December a court in Rome has ordered YouTube to immediately remove all Mediaset content from its website.
During the World Cup friends would quite often send a Tweet to alert me to a clip from a recent match that had been uploaded to YouTube, but with the warning to watch it quickly, in case it was removed. People’s sense of copyright seems to have shifted. I’ve had conversations with perfectly intelligent people who seem to believe that once a piece of content is in the public domain you can do what you like with it. Try telling that one to a liable lawyer.
The Premier League seems to have come off badly too. If there can be no infringement on foreign works not registered in the US it cannot be right to declare open season on a match uploaded in the US from coverage on ESPN, while allowing a prosecution were that same piece of content uploaded from the UK.
This is a variation on those UK pubs who seem to believe they are in the right to screen foreign satellite coverage of the Premier League to circumvent Sky’s retail rate, when the domestic subscription they pay overseas avoids paying that operators pub charges.
Broadcasters like Viacom who wanted to prevent the upload of their content to YouTube have also sought a slice of the action. The BBC, Channel 4, Universal Music Group and Disney/ABC Television have all sought to ensure that their content is given preferential treatment on YouTube through the establishment of partner channels. It would not come as a surprise to see the Premier League do the same in the way that the Indian Premier League cricket also did a deal with the site.
There is something perfectly circular about broadcasters who seek to distribute their content over the internet through a site that platform operators are seeking to add to the television.
Incidentally, for those who continue to take our words, we too have lawyers.