Fact number one.
Unlike Google’s YouTube, Apple’s Itunes Store does not have a piracy problem, nor does it have an unmanageable issue with DMCA notices. This is often explained that this is because Apple does not allow user generated content from just anyone, therefore there is a barrier to entry that prevents such issues. But this is simply just not true, anyone can upload an album of music to Itunes using any one of the third party aggregation services such as Tunecore or CDbaby. And yet, there are not (as far as we know) hundreds or thousands of DMCA notices and content take downs on Itunes per day, as there are on YouTube. So why is this? In a word, intent.
If Apple, Spotify, Amazon and virtually every other legal and licensed distributor of digital music can put into place, the checks and balances that are capable of managing these rights effectively why is it so hard for Google to do the same YouTube? Think about it.
Fact number two.
YouTube can effectively filter content if it wants to. Since day one, we have never, ever seen any live porn on YouTube. Not a single live link to porn, ever. In debates in various online forums we have often proposed the challenge to anyone to present an active live link to full fledged porn on YouTube. It has NEVER happened. No one has EVER been able to present a live link to an active porn video on YouTube in the six plus years we and our friends have presented the challenge. Talk about a crowd sourcing FAIL.
What these two facts reveal is that rights management online, the protection of copyrights and the enforcement of Intellectual Property require nothing more than the intent and will to do so. But don’t take our word for it, listen to Google’s own Chief Economist Hal A Varian from his book “Information Rules” where he describes “Bitlegging.”
“Bitlegging” can’t be ignored: there’s no doubt that it can be a significant drag on profits.
Bitleggers have the same problem that any other sellers of contraband material have: they have to pet potential customers know how to find them. But if they advertise their location to potential customers, they also advertise their location to law enforcement authorities. In the contraband business it pays to advertise… but not too much.
This puts a natural limit on the size of for-profit illegal activities: the bigger they get, the more likely they are to get caught. Digital piracy can’t be eliminated, any more than any other kind of illegal activity, but it can be kept under control. All that is required is the political will to enforce intellectual property rights.
So Apple, Amazon, Spotify (and hundreds of others) can effectively manage digital distribution without triggering millions of DMCA notices. YouTube can effectively filter porn, and yet the internet is not broken as best as we can tell.
Maybe, just maybe this isn’t so complicated after all. That is unless one has a specific intent and motive from which they perhaps profit from the mass scale aiding of commercial level infringement.
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