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UGC Principles – Content owners don’t want to work as hard as they are

At Cogmap, thinking about UGC content is something near and dear to our heart.

A big announcement came out the other day about “UGC Principles” created by content owners and a couple of companies that have filtering tools.  In a nutshell, rather than a platform being a toolset for users (the force may be used for good or evil, each Jedi must choose!), the platform is responsible for what users do.

This is not just conceptually hard to buy into and also difficult to do from an engineering perspective:  I believe it stifles innovation.  If a company like Cogmap were responsible for making sure that no one was uploading UGC illegally (i.e. sharing organizational information that they are confidentially bound to protect), how could we even build this site?  We are a tiny team!  Building some magical filtration system is outside the scope of our capabilities.  For that matter, how can you determine if a video clip is copyrighted without comparing it to every video clip ever created.  Is a system storing terabytes of data to facilitate this reasonable?

This seems to me like a self-serving move by content owners to make their life easier.  Read about it here and here.

Having said that, I have to say that I am also sympathetic to content owners.  Is it really their job to find every instance of stolen video on YouTube and send YouTube cease and desist notices?  Seems unfair to the content owner that YouTube can disclaim responsibility.  Of course, that is what I am doing here and I appreciate YouTube’s “How can I know what is copyrighted and not copyrighted” stance.  I guess what I imagine YouTube could do is, given a video clip, find all other copies of the clip in the network and delete them.

Cogmap’s dilemma is not so much the copyright nature, but the legality of sharing information.  I don’t know if a given community member has the legal right to share the data he is sharing.  As always, we encourage our members to NOT BREAK THE LAW.

This is a complex problem.  The key in my mind is to make sure that it gets worked out in a way that does not stifle innovation and create unrealistic burdens for small innovators in the market.

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