Monday, December 31, 2012

Rights holders and Youtube

A couple of days back, I came across an interesting discussion over at the Volokh Conspiracy about the tendency of older music albums, and even full-length movies, to show up in their entirety on Youtube. Technically, most of the uploads are violating copyright, but many of the big rightsholders have agreements in place with Youtube that allow them to exercise their rights: either the right to have the offending upload removed, or enforce certain other rights, such as keeping the uploader from making any money off of the upload. (This would also explain why you see ads before certain Youtube videos.)

The interesting thing is that an increasing number of rights holders seem to be reaching the conclusion that "infringing" uploads might not be such a bad thing overall. Certainly in the case of movies, who wants to watch a low-quality version of the movie if you can get a nice print on DVD? Well, there are people who don't know about the existence of the movie, for whom Youtube's "related videos" sidebar might introduce them to new stuff they'd never even heard of, as the Volokh Conspiracy article mentions in relation to music.

And then there are orphan works. Thanks in no small part to the big rights holders pushing Congress to extend the copyright lengths, we're winding up with more and more works which are technically under copyright, but there's no easy way of figuring out who owns the copyright. Is it a bad thing if copyright is violated for such works to show up on the internet? Not that it quite relates to the Hollywood studio era, but Wikipedia's article on orphan films is also interesting.

1 comment:

livius1 said...

Sorry to add this here Ted, but I can't see where else to put it. I've passed on a brace of blogging awards to you. Hope you enjoy.
See - http://livius1.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/new-year-awards/

Colin