As of midnight tonight, DirecTV customers will lose access to 26 Viacom channels including MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and more, unless DirecTV and Viacom can negotiate an agreement. Each side is trying to paint the other as the bad guy on their Facebook pages (links below). If you go to any of the sites of the channels that are controlled by Viacom an ad will pop up shouting that DirecTV is taking away the channel from the consumer. DirecTV says this isn’t so, that Viacom wants too much money and isn’t willing to negotiate in good faith. A couple of weeks ago, Dish customers lost access to AMC in another dispute. As usual the dispute is about money and what the content is worth. DirecTV is complaining that Viacom wants consumers to pay 30% more on channels they already receive, while Viacom counters with the argument that the increase is equal to only pennies a day per consumer.
These types of disputes seem to be popping up almost monthly. Meanwhile the consumers are stuck in the middle again, just wishing they could keep watching their favorite shows. Now they will have to find these shows online either through legal sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, which means waiting till they are available or illegally thru a site like Pirate Bay. If this trend continues cord cutting may become more popular. So the very thing that they are against is the thing that they are pushing the consumer toward.
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Today the court handed down a big win for YouTube and a lot of other companies that have potentially infringing media on their websites. In two words the court agreed that YouTube has protection by “Safe Harbor” provisions as part of the DMCA. When you think about the thousands of videos being uploaded to not only YouTube, but the varies other sites around it is nearly impossible for any company to monitor all the uploads.
That is not to say that YouTube does not have to take videos down when informed by the copyright holders, only that YouTube is not financially liable for materials on their website that they are not aware of.
When you have millions of passionate people sharing moments from movies to music videos that they love that is a hard thing to stop. Copyright holders should be rejoicing that people love their content and learn that it will be nearly impossible to control where their media is distributed. While I believe people should be able share moments of material in accordance with fair use standards, I can sympathize with media creators frustrations when whole bodies of work are stolen.
Media creators do have to get a grip that times have changed embrace what is occurring, instead of sending DMCA takedown notices. It makes a lot more sense to work with YouTube and others media sites to monetize that shared content.
While I know Viacom will fight this all the way to top of the court system, my hope is that YouTube will prevail when the decision is appealed and we can claim a final victory on the safe harbor provisions.