Interesting copyright suggestion for GooTube

October 12, 2006

An interesting suggestion from economist Stan Liebowitz in the Wall Street Journal:

if you use someone’s song in a basement skit that never leaves your basement, that should be fair use. But if 50 million people see the skit on YouTube and it generates $1 million in advertising revenues, that should not be fair use.

. . . most items on YouTube have an audience close to zero. If these files use copyrighted material it could be considered fair use. A smaller number of videos are successful and generate the bulk of the revenues. Copyright infringement in these cases should not be considered fair use and should be policed by YouTube to make sure that copyright clearance has been achieved. This would balance the monitoring costs to YouTube against the harm being caused to copyright owners. Where the line should be drawn is difficult to know in advance. Perhaps a dollar value of [generated] advertising, such as $10, could be used, or negotiated among the various parties.

Now that’s a possibility I would have thought, and one that may keep media owners happy. If they focus on the copyright infringements that actually make a decent revenue then they can either stop those ones or possibly even share the revenue with the copyright owner. Sharing the revenue would give old-media companies a slice of the internet pie that they all long to have!

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