YouTube have now established the new model in the Google Nation:
Step 1: You create the art;
Step 2: Google steals it from you;
Step 3: Google makes you chase them to take it down;
Step 4: If you can afford to chase Google to try to make Google take it down and Google does take it down, the work Google stole will suddenly reappear;
Step 5: See Step 3;
Step 6: See Step 4;
Step 7: See Step 3;
Step 8: See Step 4;
Step 9: See Step 3;
Step 10: See Step 4;
Step 11: See Step 3;
Step 12: See Step 4;
Step 13: Tired of this yet?
Step 14: See Step 3;
Step 15: See Step 4;
Step 16: Tired of this yet? Got any money left?
Step 17: See Step 3;
Step 18: See Step 4;
Step 19: Now if youâ€™re tired of this, or you donâ€™t have any money left (and since we are billionaires) what we could do little artist is give you a share of the advertising revenue we are/could be selling on the pages with your artistic works. Approval over advertisers? Oh, no, we donâ€™t do that. And of course we will do whatever we want to try to commercialize your name, likeness, song titles, genres, and the clothes that you wear. And that revenue share? Weâ€™ll decide whatâ€™s fair because we are Google and we do no evil.
Now thereâ€™s no need for name calling, we certainly donâ€™t think weâ€™re philistine cretins with as much appreciation for art as a stuck pig. Weâ€™re Google and we do no evil.
We call this a shakedown where I come from.
And that, my friends, is the new boss. If you hated the record companies, they were Mother Theresa compared to this crowd.
The Congress passed something called the Digital Milennium Copyright Act in 1998. The DMCA has in it something called â€œnotice and takedownâ€?. The notice and takedown provisions essentially say that if you are an online service provider and are not otherwise aware of infringing activity going on in your house, if a copyright owner finds an infringement on your site they can send you a notice and make you disable access to the infringing material.
The way that Google wants to interpret the DMCA skips the first stepâ€”the keep your house in order step. They want to interpret the DMCA as requiring copyright owners to notify them for each instance of infringing material on YouTubeâ€”but make no mistake, this is about Google more than it is about YouTube. YouTube is just the test case.
A Japanese company forced YouTube to take down 30,000 infringing works over the weekend. Think about that for a minute. You wonâ€™t need much more than a minuteâ€™s thought to see that that is a ludicrous situation. Even if you could keep the enforcement costs to $10 per notice (which is very low), that is $300,000 in costs to notify Google that they are massively infringing your works.
Because that thought is so incredibly stupid, I canâ€™t believe that the Japanese company didnâ€™t get something in the way of damages for those 30,000 works. Of course, we donâ€™t know that because no journalist seems to have asked that question.
Needless to say, independent artists cannot afford to go after Google, and often canâ€™t afford the notice and takedown. Many artists will want to participate in the GooTube, which is fineâ€”but there is an assumption there that the artist will control everything that gets posted. Not the case. Iâ€™m dealing with a situation right now where an independent artist had a video of a performance they did not intend to be widely distributed posted on GooTube.
I believe in a very simple idea and there is nothing that Google or anyone else is going to do to dissuade me from this belief: Artists should control their work. If artists do not want to be associated with advertising, they shouldnâ€™t have to be. Itâ€™s their choice. And by artists, I mean everyone involved in the creative process, songwriters, producers, musicians and vocalists as well as featured artists.
When you understand that Google is an advertising agency, all will be revealed (or I think so, anyway). If artists wanted to work in an advertising agency, they would have done it. All I suggest is that Google should respect that choice and not steal from them to drag them into the philistine abyss that is a world where everything is for saleâ€”aka the Google Nation. And they should not be allowed to hide behind the DMCA to pull off this massive theft.
The DMCA is designed for people to behave reasonablyâ€”it is not an alibi. What we should have learned from observation is that there is a certain element of the Web 2.0 crowd who have no intention of behaving reasonably, and fully intend to steal from us to profit themselves, and they are going to hide behind the DMCA notice and takedown provisions to do it.
If you donâ€™t believe me, see step 19.
Chris Castle is a music attorney in Los Angeles where he represents artists (including KOAR fav 10 Years), producers, music industry executives, songwriters, independent publishers and record companies, and technology companies. Chris is a contributing editor to Entertainment Law & Finance and writes the Music-Tech-Policy blog (http://music-tech-policy.blogspot.com/). He is on the board of directors of the Austin Music Foundation and moderates the digital panel at SXSW. Before law school, he was the drummer for Jesse Winchester, Long John Baldry and Yvonne Elliman