Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Another music license group makes an existential legal challenge to the way YouTube implements DMCA Safe Harbor


A group called Global Music Rights, under Irving Azoff, has threatened YouTube with a $1 billion lawsuit if it doesn’t pre-emptively remove about 20,000 videos for music it claims to control.  Artists include Pharrell Williams and John Lennon, and much of the music is relatively old.
  
YouTube claims that the plaintiffs are trying to circumvent the DMCA Safe Harbor process, and that Google has already a legally similar battle with Viacom in court.
  
But Azoff still claims that publishers must seek licenses in advance of posting, even though the Safe Harbor seems to be a post-publication mechanism.
  
Hollywood Reporter has a detailed story here  and the account includes Scribd PDF’s of the legal documents.
  
This can be an important case for protecting the ability of users (like me) to continue posting UFC.  Service providers don’t know in advance whether a document belongs to the poster.
  
The article also discusses the Content ID system (link ) which does give some automated capability for screen for more obvious copyright infringement.  It’s not clear why this didn’t prevent a confrontation here, except that sublicenses for some of the songs apparently expired during a group license period.  Plaintiffs are claiming thatYouTube's business model is predicated on an expectation of undetected infringement, an argument we've heard before. 
  
It is common for other media to prescreen for licenses.  Most commercial films go through a “script clearance” process and there are plenty of law firms along Santa Monica Blvd that secure music and video rights for embeds in commercial films in advance.   Again, there is a huge cultural gap between those who depend on huge volumes of actual media sales for a living (the old model) and those for who publish for recognition, like me; some of us are seen as disruptive for those who have to making a living for offering competing products almost for free!

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