Like Steve Carell, cherry cheesecake, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: the awesomeness of YouTube is something we all can agree on. But everything good — on the Internet, at least — must come to an end, and a recent Brazilian court ruling seems to suggest that the much-loved website is rubbed and ready on the chopping block.
When a clip of Daniella Cicarelli having sex with her boyfriend on a beach rocketed to the top of YouTube, the Brazilian model went to court demanding $116,000 in damages for each day it remained online. The court went even further, ordering that YouTube shut down entirely unless it could completely purge the video from the site. Unsurprisingly, that request was ignored and the site has continued to serve up uninterrupted clips of dancing dogs, people getting kicked in the nuts, italo disco videos, or whatever it is these days.
In the U.S., YouTube is generally covered by the “Communications Decency Act,” which protects websites against liability for content posted by their users. There’s no equivalent in Brazil.
“The question for Brazil is, does the company have assets in the jurisdiction that they can seize,” Harvard Law School professor John Palfrey said to Red Herring. “Next time [Google founders] Larry [Page] or Sergey [Brin] fly to Rio, will they put handcuffs on them?” That is exactly how the U.S. cracked down on British Internet gambling website executives last fall.
When it comes to international legal procedure, the rules have yet to be written. Yahoo! still hasn’t paid the $15 million fine France famously slapped on the website in 2000 for allowing Nazi memorabilia to be sold on its auction site, something that is banned in France. Yahoo! did, however, like Google, quickly comply with China’s censorship requests.
But it’s the copyright cops that present the greatest risk to YouTube’s continuity. A few months ago, Mark Cuban predicted an Icarus decent, “This so reminds me of the early days of Napster. They were the first to tell you it wasn’t illegal. They didn’t host anything but an index to link to all the illegal downloaders. YouTube doesn’t upload anything illegal and will take down whatever you ask them to. Sounds legit right?” he wrote on his blog. “Considering the [Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)] will sue your grandma or a 12 year old at the drop of a hat, the fact that YouTube is building a traffic juggernaut around copyrighted audio and video without being sued is like…. well Napster at the beginning as the labels were trying to figure out what it meant to them. With the MGM vs Grokster ruling, its just a question of when YouTube will be hit with a charge of inducing millions of people to break copyright laws, not if.”
It may seem doom-and-gloom to anticipate a crack down on every Bar Mitzvah video with clear and complete audio of “Fergalicious,” but we’ve seen worse. While international laws regarding information may be unclear, domestically the RIAA is not know for its ambiguity.
The U.S. might rule the net, but the world has omnipresent video and camera-equipped cellphones. So in the meantime, if you don’t want the world to watch, don’t do it on beaches.
Joanne McNeil is Brainwash’s Science and Tech Editor. Her website is joannemcneil.com.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire