Friday, May 4, 2007

YouTube You Sued?

YouTube has announced it will be sharing ad revenue with users posting videos to their popular video sharing site. It has been no secret that YouTube has had problems with users posting copyrighted content.

To date this meant that copyright holders could submit a DMCA request to YouTube to have the content removed from the site, they could get a court order demanding the identity of the person who posted the copyrighted content, and they could sue the person who posted the material.

Now that users will be profiting from the content they post, what will this do to the user's legal liabilities? If a user gets sued for posting copyrighted material and the copyright holder can prove damages related to the revenue the poster received, what happens to the cut of that exact same revenue YouTube received?

The DMCA provides nice provisions designed to protect website owners from items posted by their users; however, now that YouTube is providing an exact picture of the advertising value of that video does that mean that the copyright holder can seek damages for YouTube's cut from that content? As a whole YouTube has a much better case for dealing with copyright content through the provisions of the DMCA, but when they start putting specific value on specific content are they opening up a bigger can of worms?

All in all, I like YouTube's strategy, but I hope they spend some time thinking about defining the value of specific content on a video file sharing site.

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