Media Giants Issue Copyright Guidelines

A corporate coalition fails to impress fair use advocates with new copyright protection guidelines.

A coalition of Internet and media giants have agreed on a set of guidelines they claim will promote online user generated content, while protecting the copyrights of commercial content providers.

The guidelines stress a heavy reliance on content identification technology to block the use of unauthorized videos and other material.

While the coalition includes such powerhouses as CBS, Fox, Viacom, Walt Disney, MySpace and Microsoft, the group conspicuously lacks the participation of Google, AOL, Yahoo and Facebook, the Internets largest providers of user generated content.

In March, Viacom filed a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against Googles YouTube, claiming the site posted more than 160,000 Viacom videos without permission.

"These principles offer a road map for unlocking the enormous potential of online video and user-generated content," Bob Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, said in a statement.

"Cooperation among us, aided by emerging technologies, can clear the way for further growth in the availability of online video in ways that will be good for consumers, good for copyright owners and good for uploading services."


Click here to read more about YouTubes use of copyright recognition technology.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer issued a similar statement, claiming, "The cross-industry dialogue that resulted in these principles is an important step forward in establishing the Internet as a great platform for video content—a platform that allows services to innovate and preserves incentives for all creators, big and small, by respecting copyright."

The coalitions principles, though, failed to impress Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a Washington-based Internet advocacy group that has long supported fair use rights. Sohn said in a statement the coalitions principles were little more than "lip service."

"It is a major contradiction to say attention should be paid to fair use and at the same time encourage the uploading of authorized user-generated content," she said. "The beauty of fair use is that copyrighted material can be used in a way not authorized by the copyright holder."

Sohn added the coalitions principles are "really demands imposed by companies other than most of those which host user-generated content."

The coalitions Web site notes the principles are not intended to be and should not be construed as a concession or waiver with respect to any legal or policy position of coalition members or as creating any legally binding rights or obligations.

"We recognize that no system for deterring infringement is or will be perfect," the site states. "But, given the development of new content identification and filtering technologies, we are united in the belief that the principles…taken as a whole, strike a balance that, on a going-forward basis, will result in a more robust, content-rich online experience for all. "


Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on image editing and Web publishing tools.