The Sunday Times’ encounter with copyright infringement on YouTube

A recent filmed interview about the Sunday Times’ coverage of the Health Minister’s alleged antics was hijacked, edited and posted to YouTube. I was approached by the Sunday Times earlier today for comment and part of my interview was included in a video published on The Times’ multimedia site:

Brought to you by: The Times Multimedia

There is a definite risk of copyright infringement on the Web today, particularly of content that is published on the Web. This case involving videos posted on The Times’ multimedia site is typical of some of the acts of copyright infringement that occur on an ongoing basis. As I mentioned in my interview, it may be that visitors to the site are not aware of the limitations copyright imposes and don’t realise that downloading videos from the original site, editing them and republishing the edited versions is copyright infringement. Either that or those individuals are aware that their edits infringe copyright and will do it anyway.

In either case, the Sunday Times can make use of a mechanism in the American Digital Millenium Copyright Act which enables it to place YouTube in notice that the video on the YouTube site infringes its copyright and calling on YouTube to remove the video. If YouTube does not comply with a properly formulated notice it can risk losing the protection it is afforded under that legislation from a claim for copyright infringement. We have a similar mechanism in our law. These mechanisms protect service providers like YouTube (and local content sharing services) from claims provided they comply with so-called take down notices.

The Sunday Times retains the right to pursue the author of the video for damages or other forms of relief to guard against further acts of copyright infringement if it can locate and identify the author. An alternative could be to license its content under a Creative Commons license that enables visitors to the site to share the content or even remix it (although I don’t see such a permissive license being granted). Another step is to advise visitors what the permissible uses of content on the site are in an effort to address ignorance about these sorts of intellectual property rights.

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  1. […] wrote about The Times’ discovery of that its videos had been modified and uploaded to YouTube without its permission last week. Gregor Rohrig has been posting updates as The Times has liaised […]

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