#WTFU Watch: In the defense of Youtube





There is a saying in my country that goes: The rope always snaps at it's thinnest. It is meant to say that, those that are least empowered are always the most likely to feel the negative effects in any situation. I'll come back to that.

Doug "Nostalgia Critic" Walker has apparently set the online world on fire with his simple request that Youtube handle reinvent the system by which it judges copyrighted content  and fair use, which is to say it doesn't, and it's rife with abuse and completely lacking a human component.

And I agree with it. All of it. Youtube needs to reform it's system. They've got the money for it. But let's be fair to Youtube.

Copyright laws as they are, thanks to the Digital Millenium  Copyright Act, make Youtube responsible for it's user submitted content. It was designed to prod hosting websites to police copyrighted content on their sites, or face steep, steep fines.


Copyright is supposed to produce innovation, but lot's of elements of  current copyright are doing the opposite, trampling the innovations and formats of the internet to serve old models and those with a stake on them. That's not just ME saying that.

The American government commissioned a Task Force to investigate how to make copyright do more what it's supposed to. It took them 3 years and millions of dollars to make a series of recommendations that I could have told you for the meager ad revenue it would bring me: that steep fines encourage copyright trolling and chill innovation. That Remix culture need to be let breath.

However, that's not the recommendations they are planning to act on. They know their copyright system is broken, and the only way to fix it is FORCE EVERY NATION ON THE EARTH TO ADOPT THE SAME BROKEN SYSTEM. So we can all be even in our wrongness.

Youtube needs to revise the ways it handles  copyrighted material on it's site, yes. I completely agree with that. For one, the algorithm that detects the content should  take into consideration amount, and there should be penalties for fake and malicious claims, and Youtube should request that only the owner of the content, verified, can make a claim. It should definitively not be telling me a public domain movie belongs to someone else. But it is not a coincidence that Youtube's system is broken, when they are also under a very broken copyright law system.

I mean, let's face it, Youtube isn't the only  website with user submitted content out there. Practically all social networks work like that, and while it is entirely possible someone could upload illegal content, or just content they wouldn't have on their site at all, you don't see THEM going to this level.

Somebody once flagged me for pornography on Facebook. It was a drawing of Lady Deathstrike fighting Tiffany Lords.

It got looked at pretty fast, it was determined it was NOT pornography, and we all moved on.  Is it any harder for YT? I would think the user base of Facebook is even larger (1.19 billion) and much more likely to put unwanted content than in Youtube (1 billion ), were many users aren't even uploading anything, just watching.  But they don't sweat it. You don't see takedowns like in Youtube. There's people in there.



I'm not trying to let Youtube off the hook. But this bigger than  Doug Walker not getting payed, or me not being able to show my stupid video in Germany. This is bigger than that. This is the very reason we need to reform our copyright system in a way that makes sense for everyone in the now, not just  big entertainment companies in the mid 70's. I made Limited Times , this very blog, precisely to address this kind of issue and to bring it to light.

The rope always does break at the thinnest. Big Entertainment wants laws that make other people (I.E. Government and  Web Hosting sites)carry out a defense of IT'S copyrighted work, when that's clearly their own responsibility. Youtube isn't gonna take the exaggerated cost of carrying out a copyright defense of Doug Walker's video's on court. Rope's gotta break somewhere.

So yes, I support #WTFU . But I also support #Copyrightreform, which is something we desperately need, and we've needed for a long time. It's something I've been championing on a blog for a while.


I look forward to how this turns out. But regardless, remember that this didn't start now. This didn't start when Google bought Youtube. This is the results of years of wrongheaded  mishandling of the very idea of copyright. It needs to be dealt with at it's core, as a nation.





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