Japanese Media vs YouTube, round 1 October 20, 2006Posted by fukumimi in Internet, Japan, Media.
JASRAC has apparently been spearheading a drive by Japanese broadcasters and rights holder organisations to target unauthorised use of copyright material on YouTube.
Earlier this month, JASRAC and 22 other corporations and organisations held a week long blitz targetting YouTube, which resulted in 29,549 takedown notices being submitted to YouTube, all of which apparently were complied with.
Looking beyond the usual accusations (which have a certain amount of merit) of media companies acting like dinosaurs stuck in an outdated paradigm, one has to consider the complexity of the various asserted rights which are attached to a piece of typical piece of video material. Even for a re-run on broadcast television, broadcasters often have to contact all parties involved to get approval (and this process takes weeks or even months of tracking down the rightsholders), as the original contracts are usually narrow in scope and most certainly didn’t have internet broadcasting in mind.
It isn’t a simple matter of broadcasters signing a distribution deal with YouTube, given the number of programmes which they broadcast.
Going forward, broadcasters might start framing contracts to allow more varied use and reuse of material and build up a improved framework within which they can track all contractual obligations (and associated financial payments), but in the mean time, they cannot just ignore the fact that they themselves have contractual obligations which most likely include enforcement of rights of individuals and parties who appear in or are involved in making broadcast content.
Then there is the reality that a lot of content is created by legally separate production houses, which are likely to vary widely on their management of data pertaining to rightsholders associated with each piece of content they produce. Even if they did have contact records for rightsholders initially, contact details do change and it may be very difficult to contact rightsholders especially for older pieces of media footage.
Whilst it is attractive to the user to have comprehensive archives made available, the task of retroactively (re)identifying, reconnecting and renegotiating with interested parties is a huge undertaking which costs time and money. The financial rewards for such an effort may just not make economic sense.
I’m not saying that JASRAC and other such organisations don’t need to catch up with the times (they certainly do), but I think that the issues involved are far more complex than many people who aren’t media lawyers or working in the rights department at a media firm may realise.