Nov 19, 2006

[The Web] MySpace Sued

Social Networking site MySpace, and its parent company the News Corporation has recently been sued by the Universal Music Group as of Friday, November 17.

Of course the case is related to the thousands of unlicensed songs and videos uploaded by users to the site pretty much daily which are in violation of international copyright laws. The lawsuit calls Rupert Murdoch's MySpace a "vast virtual warehouse" of pirated works. It's a pretty big lawsuit given they're demanding $150,000 US per song or video uploaded to the site given they claim the site also benefits by selling advertising related to the illegal content.

Many analysts see this case as a sort of test of the laws related to online content in preparation for much bigger cases like those potentially against sites like YouTube, for which it has also been reported that Google has earmarked $200 million US from the $1.6 billion paid for the acquisition just for potential copyright cases.

The laws are pretty generous, when you get down to it. While sites cannot be penalized immediately for user-uploaded content, they are responsible for policing these activities and likewise removing content reported or discovered by the license owner. Thus this lawsuit is pushing that MySpace has not done enough to protect UMG's material especially those already tagged and reported.

Frankly, we at the Guide feel this case, while important for the rest of the user-uploaded content industry, will take a long time to resolve itself sufficiently. This will be good for everyone in the long run given site owners will be working on better ways of protecting copyright and everyone gets what they deserve.

We're most interested to see how Google plans to insert stronger copyright controls into YouTube and even their original video sharing and searching site Google Video. Given their reputation for innovation and creativity, we feel that Google will be the ones to take the most significant steps towards revising how web portals and video sharing sites will handle user-generated content.

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