“No copyright infringement intended.” This has to be the stupidest misuse of a legal term in existence and you will find it all over YouTube; I know I have, usually accompanied by a blather of “fair use” verbiage. When an entire album of music or a DVD of somebody’s concert is uploaded to YouTube, it’s not “fair use,” it is a copyright violation. No one on YouTube has the right to upload that stuff, but there is a profusion of material that’s there for the taking. And by taking, I mean downloading without paying a cent for the music or DVD. WTF, YouTube?
Probably the most depressing aspect of all this is the dimwits who do this and think they are protecting themselves from something by posting all that legalese that they likely cut and pasted from Wikipedia, which adds several levels of irony on top of all this. Nevertheless, this is piracy, folks. This is what it looks like: innocuous, harmless, well-intended. Just because the true copyright holders don’t pursue legal action doesn’t mean that the uploading of the material is legal. This echoes the old corporate saw about “it’s only illegal if you get caught.” No harm, no foul, right?
I can appreciate fans of musical groups wanting to share the music they love — heck, I’ve even done some really horrible cover tunes that I wouldn’t blame the songwriters for wanting to have taken down. But when someone takes a video, album, or DVD performance and illegally reproduces it, that’s stealing — no exceptions unless the copyright holder gives permission. To rationalize that the musician “has already made their money on it” is to unjustifiably insert oneself into determining at just what point said musician has made enough money that their rights to their own work no longer apply. No one on YouTube, or anywhere else, has that right.
Because there will always be a contingent of people out there who are too lazy and cheap to be bothered to do the right thing, the attempts to legislate against this will continue. SOPA, anyone? Unfortunately, the copyright holders are just as much to blame for this problem because if they don’t bother to defend their copyrights against illegal use, they weaken the power of copyright for all the rest of us. If what goes on on YouTube becomes acceptable, what copyright protection is there really? YouTube and those other social media outlets have to take responsibility for what they engender and enforce their own EULA and TOS agreements. If they don’t, then it is all just so much “fair use” blather.
*To add to this topic, in the November 8 article about my less-than-serious name change for the Redskins, I used a photo gleaned from a 1966 Sports Illustrated issue, properly attributing the photo to its photographer. Of course, I did not pay for its use, but at what point can you illustrate a specific aspect of a topic without having to pay for it just to have the conversation? I would be interested in the viewpoint from Sports Illustrated on this and if it would result in a cease-and-desist notice.