Opt-out class-actions attack YouTube’s opt-out business model. Any irony there?

May 20, 2007

The filing of a second class-action copyright suit against YouTube and its parent Google (GOOG) on May 10, this one listing mandolin player David Grisman as its name plaintiff, provides an occasion to ponder whether such suits don’t inadvertently highlight the relative reasonableness of what the defendant is doing.

In a class-action, the law allows a lawyer to sue on behalf of thousands of people he’s never met, but permits those people an opportunity to opt-out of the suit after it has been brought. YouTube’s business model works much the same way; it posts user-generated videos that, in some cases, include unauthorized use of copyrighted material, and only takes them down if and when a copyright holder objects after the fact. In context, YouTube’s opt-out business model seems at least as defensible as the opt-out class-actions being used to attack it.

(The Grisman suit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, was reported by Bloomberg here. The uncanny similarity between the complaint in that case and one filed six days earlier by different lawyers in Manhattan federal court is reported by The Wall Street Journal Law Blog here. Both class actions were preceded by Viacom’s (VIA) $1 billion individual suit against Google, which was filed in March, also in Manhattan.)

The first class-action complaint was authored by Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman, a leading class action firm, and Proskauer Rose, a top New York commercial firm with special expertise in intellectual property litigation. Its name plaintiffs are the Football Association Premier League (the highest division of English soccer) and the independent music company Bourne Co. Soccer fans apparently lift unauthorized clips from televised games and then post them on YouTube, while other YouTube users (at least I assume they’d be different users) post videos that contain unauthorized renditions of songs like “Inka Dinka Do,” which is owned by Bourne.

The key legal issue presented by YouTube’s business model is that the company goes ahead and posts contributions that contain third parties’ copyrighted works without first obtaining the third-parties’ permission. Opt-out models are certainly unusual in the copyright context, where the law generally requires prior approval, no matter how cumbersome.

In the case of YouTube, of course, Google will argue that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 effectively reversed the copyright-permissions default settings for Internet sites that, like YouTube, rely on “user-generated” content. Under that law, site owners are often protected from liability for posting user-generated content so long as they promptly take down offending files once someone complains. The plaintiffs, in turn, will reply that, for various reasons, the DMCA doesn’t apply and that, in any event, YouTube’s takedown procedures are intentionally designed to be futile, at least for plaintiffs like the Football Association, whose clips are constantly being re-posted by fans. (I don’t know if Inka Dinka Do fans are as recalcitrant.) I’m not taking a position here on how that ultimate question should be decided: That’s the issue properly presented in Viacom’s original, individual copyright suit against Google.

But a class-action suit against YouTube heaps additional knotty questions on top of that one. Ordinarily, when you are alleging securities fraud in a suit on behalf of shareholders, the opt-out class-action seems pretty sensible. It’s a good bet that most people, if they’ve lost money due to securities fraud, want it back. The main reason class members are even offered an opportunity to opt-out is just in case they want to hire their own lawyer to protect their rights.

Those assumptions don’t apply here. This case is brought on behalf of copyright holders whose works have been posted on YouTube without their prior approval — whether or not they ultimately turn out to have any objection to their works being posted there. Trying to interpret the silence of people who’ve not yet expressed any view about having their content on YouTube is dicey at best. The vast majority of files on Google — the entirely user-generated, home-video type stuff — is, in fact, being posted by the copyright holder him- or herself (i.e., the user who made it). Furthermore, there’s little question that at least some big corporate copyright owners — many news organizations, for instance — are pleased to have their content up on YouTube, which they see as free advertising. In most cases, those who are silent have not even availed themselves of the inexpensive remedies YouTube affords: e-mailing it to identify their copyrighted files and demand their takedown. (Yes, those procedures might be futile for something as popular as soccer highlights, but they probably work fine for less popular infringements.) If an absent class member learns, after the fact, that his work is being posted, but he’s okay with that, then it seems like no wrong has been committed as to him. Or do the plaintiffs theorize that the very fact that YouTube posts another’s copyrighted work without prior permission — even if the owner later finds out and doesn’t mind — is a legal wrong in itself? That doesn’t sound right. And what’s the status of class members who don’t even realize their works are posted on YouTube in the first place? If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, can Bernstein Litowitz sue?

If, on the other hand, the case were brought as an opt-in class action — with the lawyers required to get each individual class member’s permission beforehand, I’d have no objection. True, an opt-in model might not be workable as a practical matter. But that’s exactly what YouTube says about it’s business model, too.

Since I was sure Sean Coffey of Bernstein Litowitz would disagree, I invited him to respond, and offered him up to as much space as I used. Despite pressing demands on his time, he has kindly accepted. Here’s his response:

RESPONSE OF SEAN COFFEY AND LOU SOLOMON, ATTORNEYS FOR THE CLASS (5/18/07, 9:45 am ET):

Thank you, Roger, for allowing me a chance to respond to your comments about the YouTube class action that Bernstein Litowitz and Proskauer Rose recently filed in federal court in New York. My Proskauer colleague Lou Solomon joins me in explaining just how badly your views on the utility of our case miss the mark.
Far from “ironic,” this is a matter where the class action procedure makes the most sense. Given the massive nature of the infringement on the YouTube website, a class action addressing the common factual and legal issues is the only feasible way to make YouTube conform its conduct to the laws protecting the creative works of thousands of copyright holders. Viacom’s lawsuit – meritorious as it is – is unlikely to do that because Viacom is quite reasonably looking out for its interests, not those of other holders. Perhaps you would prefer to have thousands and thousands of individual Viacom-like actions further clog the courts. In fairness, however, it seems that your skepticism about our case rests principally on the notions that (a) there is some simple “inexpensive” way for concerned copyright holders to ask YouTube to take down infringing material, and (b) if a copyright holder is unaware that YouTube is making its works available to hundreds of millions of internet users for free (that clever “tree in the forest” line in your post), there is no harm to that holder. Wrong on both points.
As for the takedown option, there are thousands of copyright holders who have sent take down notices. Thousands. Those notices are statements of objection by the holders themselves. These companies and individuals are, collectively, spending millions of dollars a month sending the notices, only to see their stuff not taken down, or taken down oh so slowly, or taken down and then going right back up. For details on how impractical YouTube has made this “option” we refer you to our complaint (or if you don’t have our complaint handy, read the Grisman complaint since it copies verbatim some 93 paragraphs of our infringement complaint- now that’s ironic). This group of copyright holders wants to know if YouTube can get away with acting like this. Indeed, we have been contacted by many holders who report to us at our website http://www.youtubeclassaction.com their own frustrations with YouTube’s footdragging. This group would seem to overcome each of your objections. What say you?
Second, the “if I don’t know I’ve been ripped off what’s the harm” angle. Interesting. But the fact that the grocer may not notice that someone has been pulling crates of grapes off his loading dock doesn’t mean the grocer hasn’t been ripped off. If consumers who want to view our class members’ works can get them on YouTube without paying for them, we respectfully submit that the person who created that work and is otherwise entitled to be compensated for it has been harmed. Someone does make money – YouTube and Google, whose business plan is blatantly founded on drawing eyeballs to the site with the lure of viewing other people’s works for free. (On a related point, you also seem to think, as you say, that the “vast majority” of files are being posted by the holder himself. But you don’t cite any data to support that. We intend to show that your premise is wrong, certainly when we look at the postings that matter – i.e., the postings that bring eyeballs to YouTube in the first place.)
At the heart of the class action relief sought in our case is structural change of the way YouTube (with the blessing of its parent Google) encourages and benefits from the massive infringement by requiring YouTube to use available technology to prevent copyright infringement for those who don’t want their property taken without license or permission. This structural relief will benefit all users, without cost to them. Copyright holders who are not interested in utilizing the available technology do not have to. Doesn’t this, too, satisfy your objections?
At the end of the day, the Court will weigh all the factors, including whether your concerns are valid before the action is formally certified as a class. We think this is a proper class action, without question.

Okay reader, there’s the point-counterpoint. What do you think?

Source: www.fortune.com 

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The 5 effective ways to make your blog unique

May 17, 2007

5 ways to make your blog unique:

 

It’s an open secret that if you want your blog to be successful, you must be able to make it unique. You have to create some specific image that makes your blog memorable. Here are 5 ways to make your blog unique:

 

 

1)  Domain Name:

 

     One of the most important aspects is your domain. If you go to technorati to 10 blogs, it will tell you how important is the domain. It’s like the name your website gets.

 

2) Logo and Favicon:

 

    Not much used by blogs now-a-days. But they are a very powerful tool. The simple reason is that our mind is better adapted to remembering pictures and visual data than just names. It’s like the difference between just reading the lyrics of a song and actually hearing it. Your logo is your choice. It can be your own photo. Using your own photo as a logo or favicon helps readers connect with you (self-branding). We trust real faces more than our monitors.

 

3) Layout or theme:

 

    This is another supplement to the visual snapshot your brain stores. Stop using the same public templates. Even if you can’t spend on getting a custom one built, it’s easy to learn CSS . Just a little customization like different colours and font’s can make a better template for peanuts.

 

4) About page:

 

    Using an About Me page is absolutely necessary for most of us. If you are Bill Gates, Bush or Osama, then you can safely skip this point 🙂 . So what you mention on about page depends on you and the type of blog you own. Different about pages are suitable for some personal blog and some business blog.

 

5) Writing STyLe:

 

    You need to personalize the way you write. People don’t want you to be talking in I and 0. Don’t speak greek, but a little bit of touch is way better than ‘robot posts’.

 

 

 That’s all for now. So move your butt (or maybe don’t) and make your blog unique now!


Englands soccer league files lawsuite against You Tube

May 5, 2007

NEW YORK: England’s top soccer league and an independent U.S. music publisher have sued YouTube , saying the video-sharing website was engaging in massive copyright infringement to build traffic to the site.

The Premier League is the top division of English soccer, broadcast in 204 countries worldwide and viewed by audiences estimated by the league at 2.59 billion. Bourne Co. calls itself one of the leading independent publishers of music in the United States.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeks class-action status and asks for a disgorgement of profits made by the alleged actions, as well as unspecified damages.

Named as defendants were YouTube Inc., YouTube LLC and YouTube’s corporate parent, Google Inc. The lawsuit said a scheme by which website visitors can access, view, and otherwise exploit copyrighted materials without having to pay the owners of those materials made the Web site valuable enough for Google to pay $1.65 billion (euro1.2 billion) to buy YouTube in November.

In a statement, Google general counsel Kent Walker defended the site, saying,”These suits simply misunderstand the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which balances the rights of copyright holders against the need to protect Internet communications and content.”

He added:”They threaten the way people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression over the Internet.”

The lawsuit is not the first to challenge YouTube’s business model. Earlier this year, media conglomerate Viacom Inc. sued YouTube for $1 billion (euro740 million) in federal court in New York, claiming that the site had built a business by using the internet to “willfully infringe copyrights on a huge scale.” Viacom’s was the first lawsuit filed by a major media owner.

Several media companies have reached agreements to supply YouTube with clips, including CBS Corp., General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal and the British Broadcasting Corp., but many others remain reluctant to deal with the website because of copyright concerns.

Source : Times Of India


Microsoft Live Search , most shitty search engine on the web

May 5, 2007

Check out these 3 examples,

  1. The first listing for searching Digg.com is Wikipedia!
  2. The search for Darren Rowse Has no problogger.net on the first page!
  3. Search Apple inc and only one result from apple.com on the first page, that too danish!  

You can try many other terms.

One thing is sure. JUST STAY AWAY FROM IT!!


Top windows keyboard shortcuts

May 4, 2007

Here are a few keyboard shortcuts that you may find worth using in case your mouse is rusty:

CTRL and A Selects all the items in the active window.
CTRL and C Copies the item or items to the Clipboard and can be pasted using CTRL and V.
CTRL and F Displays the Find all files dialog box.
CTRL and G Displays the Go to folder dialog box.
CTRL and N Displays the New dialog box.
CTRL and O Displays the Open dialog box.
CTRL and P Displays the Print dialog box.
CTRL and S Displays the Save dialog box.
CTRL and V Pastes the copied item or items from the Clipboard.
CTRL and X Cuts the item or items selected to the Clipboard.
CTRL and Z Undoes the last action.
CTRL and F4 Closes the active document window.
CTRL while dragging an item Copy the selected item
CTRL+SHIFT with arrow keys Highlight a block of text
CTRL+F4 Close the active document
CTRL+ESC Display the Start menu
CTRL and F6 Opens the next document window in the active application

Digg takes the ‘Top searched’ spot on technorati

May 3, 2007

After all the revolt over the HD – DVD cracked code on popular social networking website Digg.com ,  The search for Digg has topped on technorati’s popular searches.

 With many Newspapers like NewYork times covering the event ( article ) and the speculation by Top networking sites like Slashdot.org ( article ) and Gizmodo ( article ) , yet another question has been raised :

Can the large corporations excersice a control over the masses power on the most free medium , internet

Now diffrent people may have diffrent views, but one thing is sure. The masses rule.


Breaking : Blackberry Curve Launched

May 3, 2007

downloads_three_800.jpg

NEW YORK: BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd is introducing its third new model in less than a year, a mid-sized device geared toward consumers who might prefer a full keyboard for typing text rather than the abridged one on the popular Pearl.

  • The Curve, named for its smooth edges, will be offered first by AT&T in the US, though no launch date or pricing has been disclosed.

    The device has a front trackball below the screen to navigate its menus, a feature that RIM introduced last year with the Pearl as a replacement for its signature side wheel for thumbing through e-mail. With the Pearl’s success, RIM also added the trackball to the 8800, the new version of its top-end phone for business users.

    Despite its popularity, the Pearl may not appeal to users who don’t like its unique keyboard design, which places two letters on each key and relies on predictive software to choose the desired letter.

    The Curve has one letter per key, so it’s wider from side to side than the Pearl though still small compared with many full-keyboard phones. The device, weighing 3.9 ounces, is 4.2 inches deep by 2.4 inches wide, and 0.6 inch thick.

    Other features include a 2 megapixel camera with digital zoom and a flash, as well as a 3.5 millimeter stereo headset jack rather than the smaller earphone port found on most cell phones.

Source : Times News Network