How to issue a DMCA strike notice against YouTube

The trouble is this debate has become about the future of the internet rather than the future of professional creative people …

Have you had your work illegally ripped and posted up on YouTube?

People do this for a variety of reasons. Ignorance, or some misinformed sense of entitlement. They also do it for the oldest reason of all. They’re greedy. Because they can make money off any clicks on their YouTube channels.

There are many people operating on YouTube who create their own stuff. They do interesting things, and collect a fan base. The more people watching the more money they make. It’s not much, but for a lucky few, the rewards can be significant.

And then there are the cheating scum who just post up entire movies that they’ve ripped off a DVD, or downloaded (illegally) from a Torrent site. They care nothing for the rights of the copyright holder, and YouTube doesn’t care either. Or at least, there is nothing in their operating procedure which creates a barrier or check.

There is NO other publishing medium in the known universe that works like this. Everywhere else, whatever the art form – music, film, or literature – one is required to provide verifiable chain of title, on pain of significant legal penalties.

But the internet, apparently, is special. And internet companies got accorded privileged protection by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1999, which places all the onus for reporting and policing copyright infringement on the victims, rather than perpetrators. After fifteen years of this evil rot, the consequences have been disastrous for the music industry, and the film industry is also well advanced down the same slippery slope to ruin.

So, back to the original question … you’ve had your work stolen and now there it is, sitting on half a dozen different YouTube links. What do you do?

Well, as mandated by their parent company, Google (if it’s Evil, we’re in!), YouTube are incredibly slippery. But they are bound by DMCA, and that cumbersome, extremely onerous mechanism is the only quick recourse for removing copyright infringing material.

You may already be familiar with the process … but in case not, here’s a handy guide:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vOd_d8FhFyE

Or go straight here:

https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2807622?hl=en

NB: You can issue strike notices against multiple titles on the same form.

This whole system is a Kafkaesque farce, of course. Copyright holders should not be required to police the internet. No other publishing medium is allowed to get away with this kind of perfidious larceny.

YouTube makes much of its vaunted Content ID partnership plan, but unless you’re a very large company representing hundreds, or even thousands of titles, forget it. They won’t let you in. And even for big companies, it’s all a barefaced cynical con. Here’s a quick explanation why these assholes cannot be trusted:

http://thetrichordist.com/2015/01/20/google-may-continue-driving-traffic-to-pirate-sites-after-dmca-notices-by-using-its-google-alerts-product/

The more I look into this stuff the more outraged I get. They are making the whole business of independent film making completely untenable.

As I said above, YouTube are slippery. Their business model is voracious, and wilfully immoral. They’re all about swallowing and monetising as much content as they can, and while they will act if copyright infringement can be shown, their modus operandi is modelled on Sgt Schultz (We know nothing, see nothing, hear nothing …).

Worse, even when a copyright holder asserts their rights, YouTube bends over backwards to help wrongdoers. Look at their advice pages devoted to copyright. Most of the advice is directed at people posting stuff that’s not theirs, helpfully suggesting ways they can frustrate and impede copyright holders. Topsy turvy world!

See also YouTube’s ChillingEffects.org – where the personal details of copyright holders issuing strike notices are listed. What is that all about? You assert your rights, and they parade you like a criminal, and potentially set you up for personal attacks.

This disease will continue up until suchy time as internet companies are allowed privileged protection from prosecution by the DMCA act. The trouble is this debate has become about the future of the internet rather than the future of professional creative people. The truth is, enacting fair laws that protect copyright and enable people to make a living will NOT ‘break the internet’. They might break YouTube, and curb Google, but that is not the same thing

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The Sony Hacking Part 2: The Plot Sickens

First up, the first published analysis of how The Interview is doing in its novel  simultaneous release. The answer seems to be, it’s doing better than the average Indy release, but pretty crap for a Hollywood flick that might, in different circumstances, been able to look forward to a full release on 3000 screens.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/26/the-interview-theaters-on-demand_n_6383452.html

Likelihood of profitability for a production that cost only 40 million (a very modest Hollywood budget), less than zero.

So anyone who thinks Sony orchestrated all this brouhaha just so they could get their leg over at the box office … please pause for a reality check.

And now, the plot thickens …

If you’re like me and don’t believe in coincidences, sift through this next link and ask yourself if there isn’t a very interesting pattern showing in the shadows.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/12/23/googles_driveby_shooting_of_jim_hood_takes_out_key_critic/

Private information gleaned from the hacking was used to create misinformation for a propaganda campaign intended to discredit an elected official who has been quite rightly hounding Goliath over matters of genuine legal impropriety.

“In my 10 years as attorney general, I have dealt with a lot of large corporate wrongdoers. I must say that yours is the first I have encountered to have no corporate conscience for the safety of its customers, the viability of its fellow corporations or the negative economic impact on the nation which has allowed your company to flourish.”

And then they sued him. Shock and awe. For the first time in history, we have a supra national entity which thinks it is above the law, and is fully prepared to throw its weight around. 

What’s really at stake here? Quite simply, it’s Goliath’s business model. And the amoral, conscienceless way they choose to pursue it. Anything that makes money for Goliath is … okay. Anything that stops them making even more money is … not okay.

As per the terrifying metaphor in David Eggers prescient novel, The Circle, what we have here is the multinational corporation as a voracious electric shark, devouring every single living thing in its tank.

https://ncadd.org/in-the-news/1087-google-isnt-doing-enough-to-stop-illegal-drug-sales-online-some-attorneys-general-say

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/google-faces-new-pressure-from-states-to-crack-down-on-illegal-online-drug-sales/2014/04/15/6dfc61fa-be6d-11e3-b195-dd0c1174052c_story.html

http://www.inforocked.com/e-commerce-news/70-google-settles-another-lawsuit-regarding-illegal-drug-sales

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The Sony Hacking: Who really did it and why?

At first I bought into the idea that North Korea was behind the Sony Hacking.

Having reflected on developments over the last couple of days, and digesting further information, I have changed my mind about North Korean involvement. Of course one can’t rule it out completely yet, but consideration of motive has led me to a different theory.

Motive is key to any criminal act. The offender must have something to gain. And there was nothing clearly evident about what the Guardians of Peace wanted, beyond binning The Interview.

Ergo, they were an agent of a foreign power that desired the film to be binned. It seemed a simple enough case of an offended dictator reaching out to slap the face of his tormenters.

But now, it’s blindingly clear what the hackers were after all along, and that Sony have neatly given it to them on a plate.

Yesterday, The Interview was released online. In most territories, ahead or instead of being released theatrically or on DVD. That is unheard of for a Hollywood film. Why? because traditional ‘windowing’ (releasing first in theatres, followed by DVD, and finally online) makes much more money. It just makes business sense to do it this way.

For more than a decade, Big Technology pundits have been castigating Hollywood and the MPAA for ‘clinging to outdated business models’. The wet dream of online providers and consumers alike has been that Hollywood change its ways and release films instantaneously, on every platform, everywhere at once.

Well, now, by an act of precisely targeted audacity, somebody has got a Hollywood studio to do exactly that.

I predict that this is the first rolling pebble of a coming avalanche. The hackers have forced a studio into a process that would have started anyway, but not perhaps for another few years.

There’s no profit currently in releasing films this way. So only fear could serve as an inducement to start.

So, whodunnit? Well, I’m not sure. But I think it’s likely there was someone on the inside, who provided access and targeting; most probably working with a group of clever hackers.

But was this attack only ideologically motivated?

Perhaps that was motive enough – a devastating ‘freetard’ attack on the ‘free’ internet’s most determined and capable obstacle – a rich, conservative, old world media company.

Maybe. But here’s the thing. I don’t believe it. Freetardists have been doing stupid stuff for years. Pushing their line of opinionated, self serving crap in every way possible. Films are routinely stolen and released into the wild, sometimes even before their official release. This is done in the name of ‘freedom’ – which is really the most exquisitely pure form of B.S.

This was much more clever. And diabolically effective.

I believe this was a deliberate act of industrial sabotage. Disruption is a key tenet of Big Tech philosophy. The Sony Hacking is a supreme example of disruption in action. It has cracked a dam that has held fast for 20 years.

The finger of blame needs to be pointed at one or other of the likely recipients of the changes (and wealth) that will flow from that crack.

Who stands to gain most? A really obvious answer leaps to mind immediately. Yes, we need look no further than Goliath … the big G. If we are talking motive and means, then there is a company that has both of these things in epic proportions. And has proven itself to be consistently ruthless and duplicitous in pursuing its aims.

For instance, see:

http://www.citizen.org/documents/Google-Political-Spending-Mission-Creepy.pdf

Means? Forget about it. They can now do anything.

Motive. Well … that’s pretty easy too. With moves afoot in Washington to create new laws to regulate the dissemination of illegal, copyright infringing content, Goliath’s business model is under threat. Sure, they’re trying their hardest to buy enough influence to bury these proposed laws, but the harm of piracy, and the blatant unfairness of privileging Big Tech companies over creatives – large and small – these have become obvious enough that the tide of opinion could sway lawmakers.

http://www.districtdispatch.org/2014/12/son-sopa-internet-killing-mpaa-horror-sequel-garners-serious-screams/

So, forcing an evolution in the movie supply chain is a pretty damned good way to ensure that a Search Engine company is kept working overtime. It’s a form of hedge, if you will, against a future where the internet might have more fences on it. Better believe it – the Wild West got fenced. So will the Internet. It’s called civilisation.

Well, that’s my theory. It’s only a theory, but until more facts emerge, none of us can know anything for sure.

For the record, I don’t love Hollywood. I don’t believe everything should stay the same. I think it would be great if a viable market for films was developed online. But freetardists have got the wrong end of the stick completely.

The demand for free content is unfair and destructive. As is the banal demand that producers MUST release their films everywhere at once. I’m not going to spend ten pages detailing why this would be both impractical and ruinous for any creators except maybe Hollywood.

The blatant lack of understanding or respect shown by many consumers towards the people who make the things they profess to love is just plain disgusting. Witness the lip smacking jubilation shown by websites picking over the rotten meat thrown to them by the Sony hackers.

P.S: Actually, the real message of the leaked personal emails might have been missed. Folks in Hollywood are as human as anyone else. And maybe just as trapped by forces they cannot control. Why else would a rational Studio boss greenlight a 200 million dollar biopic about Cleopatra? 

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DMCA Takedown Shakedown

A thorough analysis of the pernicious problem feeding widespread exploitation and disrespect for the rights of creators.

http://copyright.nova.edu/dmca-takedown-notices/

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Where there’s Smoke there’s Fire ….

At last, a few prominent creatives are finally getting the message about the long term implications of online piracy and freeloading. And speaking out. Here’s producer Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) with an incendiary wake up call.

http://variety.com/2014/tv/columns/kurt-sutters-open-letter-to-creative-community-1201275130/

Unfortunately as the wildly hysterical comments following this article indicate, the rot of which Sutter speaks is very advanced. The vitriol expended on a man for saying basically that artists deserve to be paid …
what a disgusting age we are living in.

I am discouraged by such wilful blindness and selfish negativity, but I will never resile from confronting such stupidity and naming it for what it is. Greed and avarice, masking itself in a cloak of freedom.

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Politicians and NZ Film and Television

A little history lesson …

I don’t want to get into a boring political argument … but … but … please don’t try to seriously tell me that Labour is better for TV and Film than National.

I don’t believe it, and … I’m not even a National Party supporter!

This is not a party political rant. NZ political parties? I think they’re ALL a bit of waste of space when it comes to the arts generally, and film & TV particularly. Read on for a completely balanced appraisal.

Labour – ah those connotations of good old cloth capped working class brotherhood; and that pleasant wet liberal misty eyed fondness for the arts. Who could ever forget that poll of politicians conducted by the NZ Listener way back in 1981, asking MPs to name their favourite movie? most said they had no time to watch movies. One (National) stalwart nominated The Towering Inferno. Egg. A young Helen Clark stuck out like a hammered testicle when she named Luis Bunuel’s Viridiana.

Then and there I bought into Labour as the great hope for Kiwi culture.

Well, it’s been decades of disappointment since.

IN the cold light of day, Labour’s record looks distinctly shaky.

Just when NZ TV had reached a breakthrough accommodation with local indy film makers, who shook up the whole system in 1975 and created a monolithic local TV culture that has practiced cultural apartheid ever since?
Labour (1975 – thank you Roger Douglas – you gave us a choice of channels and colour, but you set up a lack of diversity and cultural colour, a Stepford Wives TV culture that has persisted ever since).

Then, who shook up TV again and ushered in the era of poisonously lowest common denominator programming. 1988. That was Labour too.

Who created the Broadcasting Commission (soon to be rebranded NZ On Air), and then made sure that uncounted millions in taxpayer funding would forever more be controlled by the needs and whims of a handful of commercial broadcasters? Oh dear – Labour again. The then Minister of Broadcasting (and Wine and Cheese) Jonathon (Taxi Chit) Hunt was told (by me, amongst others) that he was laying the ground for a flawed and contradictory system that would foster decades of mediocrity.

Doesn’t make me anything but sick to my stomach to be proven right.

Meantime. Who created the NZ Film Commission? National*

Who divested TVNZ of the golden eggs which became today’s Platinum Fund? National. See more on this below.

Who prevented a splinter labour union from Australia dictating terms of engagement for NZ actors and technicians? Wooo … yeah. contentious one this. But hey, before the pitchforks and flaming torches come out, let me say, believe me, I’m no union basher. Belonged to a couple myself. Still do, in fact, as a paid up member of Directors Guild. But in a country this small, the exclusionist model of collective bargaining is much worse than the alternative – a contract based system where freelancers tender for work in an open and competitive labour market. Hey, I’d love to carry a union ticket that protected my job and kept out eveyone else, but I can’t do that. Firstly, because it’s bollocks, and secondly, because I have a conscience.

Anyway, yeah … that was National. For which they and Peter Jackson got assholed by a whole lot of know-nothings with absolutely no skin in the game. Last I looked, anyone working for Jackson and Warner Brothers wasn’t exactly being exploited. Know any different? My mind is open.

And who STILL wants to push the wind back the other way – against the wishes of, oh, roughly 99% of freelance film contractors – that’d be Labour.

Oh yes, Labour, whose broadcasting policy, incredibly, appears to be … Public Broadcasting. That’s right, the same centrist, monolithic, Reithian model they pissed and crapped on back in 1988?

Maybe current Labour MPs are just too young to remember that?

They seriously are STILL whacking off to thoughts of a commercial free TV channel? Lovely idea … 40 years ago. Now, someone ought to explain just how SERIOUSLY DISRUPTED terrestrial free to air TV services are about to get. The last thing Kiwi taxpayers need now is to be buying ruinously expensive real estate in that particular hood.

Streaming is happening folks. Hello? If you want NZ identity and culture on screens, better forget about paying TVNZ and TV3 to grudgingly give up slivers of their prime time to host it. Their prime time isn’t going to be worth shit in a few years. It’s time to invest in quality content, and then place it on streaming sites that demonstrate respect and commitment to promoting it.

NZ politicians have a long and consistent history of screwing with the arts, fixing things that aren’t broken, breaking things that should be fixed, and shamelessly grabbing every glorious coat-tail they can reach. I remember a scrum of heavy set besuited tossers at a parliamentary screening, stuffing their faces with canapes,and jocularly dismissing a speech given by Peter Jackson. They had no concept of what this guy could do. Not a clue. Six months later he was making a 35,000,000 film in Wellington, and four years after that he was starting Lord of The Rings.

It’s a big mistake to try and pick goodies and baddies along political lines. As far as I have seen over 35 plus years, they’re all various shades of insincere, mealy mouthed ,or plain incompetent; and often the worst have been those who haven’t got the excuse of crass ignorance to explain their actions or lack of. Namely successive weak and pathetic Labour ministers of Broadcasting.

For instance, does anyone remember the TVNZ Charter? Canada, UK, Australia all had local content quotas. And still do. We had a virulently commercial state owned network – a gigantic living oxymoron – that hugely resented any requirement placed on it to temper its commercial ends with some cultural humanity. The Labour Government of the day could have eased up on its demands for a commercial dividend, They could have legislated for a local content quota. And they could have removed the ridiculous clause in NZ On Air’s operating legislation which gives broadcasters the whip hand in dictating content choices. But they didn’t.

Against that, contrast the decisive and immediately effective termination of TVNZ’s entitlement to 15 million in annual taxpayer funding by the incoming National Government. Money that TVNZ cynically applied to its own commercial ends, rather than funding programming as it was intended. This money was then allocated to NZ On Air as contestable funding available to all free to air networks. It became the Platinum Fund, which has been an engine for high quality local content on air ever since.

This alone indicates at least a tiny breath of fresh air in the thinking of National MPs. Sadly, no signs of anything equivalent has been detected on the other side of the house.

And those ‘incentives’? This most recent indication of decisive and positive thinking on the government benches? I do harbour mixed feelings about the cultural subtext. Clearly, National are betting on more and bigger Hollywood extravaganzas shooting here. Which does not much for local creatives, except via roundabout trickle down means; but where there’s life, then work and culture can happen. I am old enough to remember a time when hardly any films were made here at all. I don’t kid myself that we could not slip back to such times very easily.

As for ACT, NZ First, United Future, Maori, Mana, and (ugh) Internet Parties??? These are truly the blasted wastelands. Don’t bother going there if you want to hear a lick of sense regarding Film & TV.

*Find and read the speech given by then Minister of the Arts Alan Highet. Inspiring stuff. “New Zealand needs its own voices, its own language, its own heroes …”

Indeed. We still do. A powerful call to arms. It sounds like the Gettysberg address in hindsight. Noble, and high minded, but oh so distant …

The problem is that since then (1978ish) the world has changed. Monetarist reform and crypto fascist liberal capitalism have not only changed money markets, They have changed the way we think and value … everything.

Nowadays, the height of media comment on film usually involves a summary of box office figures. That is truly cause for sadness.

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Some facts about copyright

Check out this blog:

http://copyright.nova.edu/copyright-does-not-stifle-innovation-creativity/

The writer is measured and polite, but no less devastating in popping the enormous balloons of fetid hot air generated by internet Freetardists.

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