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Viacom Wants Industry Wide Copyright Filter 248

Posted by Zonk
from the putting-a-lid-on-free-speech dept.
slashqwerty writes "Unsatisfied with the proprietary copyright filter Google recently unveiled, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman has called for an industry standard to filter copyrighted material. Mr. Dauman has the backing of Microsoft, Disney, and Universal. 'They reflect the fact that there ought to be a filtering system in place on the part of technology companies,' he noted. 'Most responsible companies have followed that path. What no one wants is a proprietary system that benefits one company. It is a big drain to a company like ours to have to deal with incompatible systems.' How would an industry standard impact freedom of speech and in particular censorship on the internet? How would it affect small, independent web sites?"
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Viacom Wants Industry Wide Copyright Filter

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  • Here's another spin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:45AM (#21062069)
    No the copyright holders want to get compensation for people accessing their content as the United States Constitution allows them to. A major player of the software industry has stepped forward to sell their services, which will funnily enough also be protected under copyright law (just as Linux is).

    What does the tech industry get out of it?
    The ability to willingly limit what can be posted on their website for the price of no longer having to manually stop their users from breaking the law.

    how long until our good buddies at the justice department start to demand that other filters be put into place besides copyright ones?
    That's irrelevant. What matters is how long until we get off our asses and take back Congress. I'm also open to suggestions on how to do this, although one thing I'm doing is voting the next election. Will you at least do that much?
  • by MojoRilla (591502) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @08:00AM (#21062151)
    The media companies love standards when it suits them, such as when it limits the technology companies power (as in music DRM or content filtering). However, when the standards become, well, too standard, they want their own proprietary formats. NBC pulls out of ITunes [nytimes.com] because they didn't like the standard pricing. Sony tweaks its DVD's [about.com] because it doesn't like the standard DRM (and I rented a coaster from Blockbuster recently, thanks Sony).

    Viacom says "we believe in following the consumers". The real quote was "We believe in following the consumers as long as it pleases us. Otherwise fuck the consumers."
  • Economics 101 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DCFC (933633) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @08:20AM (#21062245)
    First up we have a new variant on googlebombing. The filter will be gamed by content owners to pick up on anything they possibly can.
    This is because of the asymmetric costs. A false positive will cost them nothing, but the poster will get zapped. Indeed blockingd free content will serve the industry quite nicely.

    There are >50 content formats, and new ones keep appearing. If the "standard" filter cannot read them, then the obvious thing to do is ban them.
    You've now established a monopoly where only "approved" formats are allowed.
    Even if it is an open standard, who writes the filter for new formats ? More importantly, who pays ?

    It is also an arms race, and I think we can be clear that the "standard" filter will not be open source.
    DRM attracts crackers in direct proportion to it's success. Many crackers may not be fans of economics, but their goals are easily modelled in economic terms.
    They want to take out the "big beast" current filters are small, unsucessful critters.
    Cracking the industry standard media filter will be more of a coup than breaking WEP, and thus inevitably be swamped.

    Also, an entertaining technical/legal point is so many site use Linux so the GPL may get involved.

  • Give them the filter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by femto (459605) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @08:44AM (#21062345) Homepage
    I say give them the filter. It should be built into every node of the network, so the network flat refuses to transmit Viacom's material, or that of any other copyright holder who wants out of the Internet. Surely a network that will only transmit stuff under a free license would have to be every free software author's dream?
  • Re:Youtube (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Threni (635302) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @08:52AM (#21062379)
    > Control is controlled by the need to control. The content providers will shoot themselves in the feet so many times that they won't have a leg to
    > stand on.

    Control is controlled by the copyright owners. They own the copyright, so they have the moral and often the legal right to control access to the material. If Google wants to pay billions for a method of distributing copyrighted material then it has to enter into a contract with the copyright owners, otherwise it might prove to be something of an expensive mistake.

    It's telling that you've conceded that `almost every link worth watching` is owned by someone. Don't you think that it's because it's been professionally produced by people whose business is to produce stuff that there's a market for? Sure, I'm sure every 10 years there'll be a Blair Witch or whatever, but I'm not sure I'd start a business on that basis.

    Someone's going to have to break this gently to Google's shareholders!

  • Skip TFA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jay L (74152) <{mf.yaj} {ta} {hsals+yaj}> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @09:09AM (#21062449) Homepage
    TFA is a summary of comments made at the Web 2.0 Summit which reference another announcement which summarizes these principles [ugcprinciples.com].

    Considering who's on the press release - NBC Universal, Disney, Viacom, Fox, Microsoft, MySpace, Dailymotion (who?), veoh (who??) - the proposed principles are actually fairly balanced. They mention fair use four times, including a statement that "When sending notices and making claims of infringement, Copyright Owners should accommodate fair use" and "If the UGC Service is able to identify specific links that solely direct users to particular non-infringing content on such [piracy-oriented] sites, the UGC Service may allow those links while blocking all other links" and even "If a UGC Service adheres to all of these Principles in good faith, the Copyright Owner should not assert a claim of copyright infringement against such UGC Service with respect to infringing user-uploaded content that might remain on the UGC Service despite such adherence to these Principles."

    It's worth reading the whole principles statement. I'm sure there are things that could be tweaked, but there are no major outrages that jump out at me; I'm actually kinda impressed.
  • The copyright holder (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Amphetam1ne (1042020) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @09:37AM (#21062577)
    "It is a big drain to a company like ours to have to deal with incompatible systems"

    Isn't it the place of the copyright holder to enforce copyright? Regardless of how incompatible it is with viacom's systems, a system that has been put in place to help copyright holders protect their works is still doing them a favor. Adapt or die Viacom.
  • Re:What's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @10:37AM (#21062883) Journal
    Trailers and advertisements are the reason I don't spend money on DVDs and cancelled my cable. I got one as a present recently. I was going to just rip it and so I could watch it commercial free, but my old ripping software doesn't work anymore, so I just downloaded it off a torrent and gave the disc away without even watching it. I don't like having broken garbage cluttering up the house.
  • by illectro (697914) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @10:49AM (#21062957)
    imeem [imeem.com] is a great example of how media filtering can work to everyone's advantage, after you upload your mp3's their media filtering figures out what the track is you've just uploaded and depending on the results the music will be shared in youtube style either as a full length track with the copyright holder getting a cut of the advertising, or if the copyright holder has said no it'll just be a 30 second sample with links to iTunes/amazon to buy. imeem is using snocap [snocap.com] for their song fingerprinting - if you rememebr snocap was originally seen as a plugin to a p2p sharing network, but the folks at imeem seem to have done away with the p2p part and just let users upload the music straight to their website. So it's like napster, except that it provides instant gratification, no waiting to listen to the track, or find out that the link is merely a 'broken' sample.
  • Re:Youtube (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @12:51PM (#21063907) Homepage
    The point of copyright laws is to protect the creators of them such that they have an interest in producing more of them, on the grounds that it's in the public's interest for there to be a range of songs, books etc to consume.

    That's half of it, actually. The other objective of copyright law is to have as little or no copyright law as possible, on the grounds that it is in the public interest for works to be free to use and disseminate in any manner, without permission, and without cost.

    So it's not good enough to just incentivize authors, you also have to craft the incentives so that you are wringing the most out of them for the least cost to the public. Plus, of course, original and derivative works are equally good, so it helps artists quite a lot for them to be able to freely use each other's works.

    But I listen to a lot of contemporary classical music, for instance, and I'm not sure who's going to pay for the rehearsals and recordings of orchestras if it was legal to just copy it. Even in the case of long out of copyright works from hundreds of years ago for string quartet (ie no conductors, minimal recording technology required), if the performances aren't to be protected then what's in it for the performers to go to the effort of recording it?

    Until 1971 sound recordings could not get a US copyright. So apparently, they made money anyway. There are ways to make money as an artist that don't involve copyright, you know. In fact, in some artistic fields, copyrights are pretty irrelevant. Fine artists really don't use them at all, for example, because the market is for specific copies that the artist himself made. An original Picasso is worth a lot. A print of a Picasso is worth a few dollars. And most fine artists are not famous enough to make money from the mass market anyway. Orchestras don't do a great job of supporting themselves anyway. It's the kind of thing that money gets spent on, not that makes money. Even with the strongest copyrights ever, I don't see that changing. A copyright doesn't ensure a market or profitability; it only concentrates whatever money there would be for that work anyway, and rather inefficiently at that.

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

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