I 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 with YouTube to have the video removed from their service. From Gregor’s posts it seems that YouTube has responded pretty quickly and decisively. YouTube’s initial response advised Gregor about a Content Verification tool which helps copyright owners expedite the process of having infringing content removed from YouTube. In any event, the offending video has been removed from YouTube.
This, of course, has awakened The Times to the very real risk that any of its content could be similarly appropriated and remixed, republished and repurposed without the publication’s consent. One option is for The Times to be vigilant and to monitor content sharing sites for instances of where its content has been misused and to file take down notices with those services in respect of each instance. Another option would cater for certain types of misuse. A common form of misuse of content is its republication on another service like YouTube. This sort of misuse is also a potential marketing benefit for content creators because it spreads the word, so to speak, about the content. While it is an infringement of copyright to republish a video on a site The Times did not intend for it to be published on, publishing its videos under a Creative Commons license would permit this and, depending on the specific license, this could even permit adaptations of the content (although this is a potential minefield).
The benefit of Creative Commons licenses for a publication like The Times is that it enables users to share the content they find on The Times’ website under a license that The Times grants. This means The Times maintains a degree of control over what users do with the content and potentially saves time going through the process of filing take down notices in respect of all those instances of copyright infringement that would otherwise have been permitted under the appropriate Creative Commons license. There will still be people who will use the content in a way that is still not permitted (for example, users may create adaptations like the ANCBC video or even make use of the content for commercial purposes) and this could take place either because those users don’t understand the limits of the Creative Commons license used or have no intention of respecting The Times’ rights. These instances would be dealt with as copyright infringements (which they would be) using take down notices and other remedies.
A third option is for The Times to republish its content on YouTube and other content sharing sites itself. This may either expose a new audience to its content or dilute its multimedia strategy (or both) and would depend entirely on The Times’ media strategy.