hutcheson - 10:37 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)
I know everyone here is concerned about this business model, or that one: some people worry about scrapers grabbing their commercial content (and profiting); other people worry about the profitability of sites that accept user contributions.
I don't care about either of those. The buggy-whip manufacturers and the baby's-space-suit manufacturers can go broke together. This isn't about profitability, and the overriding social concerns are so great, so important, so fundamental to a free society, that ... it doesn't matter who has to go broke: Google and Viacom can, and must, both go starve in the streets, if that's what it takes to protect freedom.
I'm concerned about sites like the Internet Archive, and Project Gutenberg, and the University of Newfoundland--all registered nonprofits (and, not coincidentally, all sites that I've contributed significant content to). Now, all of these sites take some care to avoid posting copyrighted material: but, the fact is, it would be trivial for me (or any other user) to slip copyrighted material into a user submission. And it happens (even with well-informed users who did not intend to violate copyright.)
As I say, these sites don't generate income. They survive on government and social support, because they provide such important social benefits. They don't have money for huge payoffs to predatory IP robber barons. They don't have money to hire lawyers to defend themselves, either.
One lawsuit like this, and they would be wiped out. That's why it's so important for EVERYONE to understand that the DMCA gives anyone the right not to have to vett user contributions and take the inherent liability for the inevitable failures. The ONLY way these sites can survive, is for Viacom to lose this suit, big time, so that IP owners (whether robber barons or bandits or peasants or beneficient monks) have the full responsibility for spotting and reporting IP infringement.
And to destroy these sites would be, possibly not like burning the library of Alexandria again, but certainly at least like burning the library of Iona or St. Gall. If Viacom has to die to protect the libraries of the world, then I'll dance on their grave. If the shoe were on the other foot--but it's not, is it? This time around, Google is trying to be Alexandria, not Genseric the Vandal.
If the shoe is ever on the other foot, I'll be happy to dance on Google's grave too.