Tuesday, October 30, 2012

YouTube's blatant ripoff problem

I heard recently about YouTube blocking a popular cat video because the soundtrack infringed on someone's copyright. On Aug. 6, 2012, videos of the Mars landing from NASA were blocked because a newspaper chain claimed that it owned the copyright to the taxpayer-funded videos. Even though YouTube blocks videos that maybe it shouldn't, there still appears to be a problem with popular videos being blatantly copied. Here is an example I ran across today.

I wanted to watch the "Banned iPad mini Promo" video, written by John Elerick, which is a funny spoof on a real Apple video for the iPad mini. So I did a search on YouTube, and below are screen captures of the first 11 results of that search. The first result, with 364,000+ views, is the correct, original video. The fourth result, by Natobus, is also original. The second, third, fifth, sixth, tenth and eleventh results (six copies!) are blatant ripoffs of the first entry. The eighth result is a copy of the first result with Chinese subtitles which at least adds something to the original. The ninth result is an original explanation of how Natobus made the fourth result.

Okay, I'm a good citizen, so I wanted to help Mr. Elerick and YouTube eliminate these blatant ripoffs. No dice. Since I'm not the copyright holder, there is no way for me to complain. It's Mr. Elerick's job to play Whac-a-Mole® and try to eliminate the ripoffs. (For some reason, Chrome wouldn't even let me post a comment. Let's ignore that for now.)

But what if the license on the original version allows them to make copies? The license on the original video says "Standard YouTube License." The best thing I could find for a standard license is the general Terms of Service. The terms say, in section 5B, "You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content." [emphasis added] To me it appears that the copies violate the YouTube Terms of Service unless the copiers received written permission from Mr. Elerick.

YouTube has a blatant ripoff problem.



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