Thu Jan 15, 2009 @ 01:30PM PST
By Eriq Gardner
Can the major record labels survive without the publicity derived from user-generated websites like YouTube?
Some entertainment companies, particularly Viacom and Warner, have fought YouTube, arguing they don't do enough to filter infringing works on their networks and don't compensate them sufficiently for the use of copyrighted material.
For the last couple years, YouTube has essentially retorted, "Give us your takedown notices and we'll do our best to pull the infringements."
The response has allowed them to argue that Section 512(c) of the DMCA gives them "safe harbor" from copyright infringement liability. YouTube is apparently now beefing up its approach to copyright liability. The video website is now muting tens of thousands of videos that use unauthorized copyrighted music. It's unclear exactly how it does this — whether it is responding to takedown notices or using fingerprinting technology — but the mutes include fan-made videos, funny spoofs, and remixes that may fall under "fair use" or generate publicity for the labels. The Wired Epicenter blog says, "The policy could have a lasting, negative effect on these labels' presence on YouTube and blogs where videos are embedded, even if the companies come to a resolution on revenue sharing." In addition, YouTube has announced on its own blog that since "Music licensing can get very complicated," the site will allow users to use its technology to automatically replace songs used in videos with pre-cleared music. YouTube now says, "Instead of automatically removing the video from YouTube, we give users the option to modify the video by removing the music subject to the copyright claim and post the new version."