Copyright infringement issues at UF

Awareness and education surrounding copyright is essential

By Alyssa Grevenkamp 


It’s hard for us to imagine a world without digital copies of music, movies, and many other materials at our fingertips. It’s even harder for us to imagine no social media in our lives to connect us. But when it comes to new technology transforming the playing field with copyright, how do we continue to follow the law when we can illegally get things we want from the Internet?

Lately, YouTube has been taking down videos that have been uploaded from a University server or from a company server. This has been a problem that has affected some at UF.

“YouTube has taken down videos that students have posted on an organization’s website or server and YouTube has blocked those DNS numbers from being used without due notice,” said UFTV Manager AJ Du Frense.

DNS numbers are domain name system numbers.

“The way they found out was they realized DNS numbers were not working and couldn’t get a stream out. It wasn’t until they did some discovery that they found out YouTube was blocking those DNS numbers. YouTube is saying it’s the responsibility of the organization to train employees or students about copyright,” said Du Frense.

From Facebook to YouTube, copyrighted materials are everywhere. The problem is how to stop people from copying those materials and posting them for their own gain.

YouTube has come up with their own automated bots that search for copyrighted material posted on their servers. These bots are not flawless, though. They have made mistakes here and there thinking something was a copyrighted material, when it really wasn’t.

“There’s been times with live programs on YouTube where you will hear a band playing a fight song or maybe some copyrighted song in the background comes on and YouTube will shut it down because they recognize it as a copyright infringement,” said Du Frense.

There have been more and more YouTube takedowns as well as notices for takedowns in recent years.

“We had a YouTube take down notice for our business,” said senior Jake Miller, co-founder of Otown Outdoors. “We make all of our own music on a software that comes with Microsoft systems. We made a song on there and another user had flagged us for copyright infringement saying that we stole his music.”

When an instance like this happens, one must communicate with a YouTube service provider and the party that thinks he or she is in the wrong to figure the situation out. The accused must

also prove his or her innocence to YouTube and that party, which can sometimes be a challenge. In Jake Miller’s case, it wasn’t as hard to prove his innocence.

“I had the original file on hand and showed we created it ourselves and YouTube didn’t have any bounds to take the video down because we proved this was ours and we created it. When you get flagged, you get to email to a YouTube service provider and the party that thinks you committed copyright infringement. We basically figured everything out by just sending them screen shots of what we had created and proving we weren’t in the wrong,” said Miller.

A takedown of one music video has been on the rise lately.

“I’ve seen a good number of YouTube takedowns recently. The one I’ve noticed most is the Marvin Gaye, Robin Thicke, and Pharrell Williams case. I was putting links to the songs in for class so I had both songs, because you need to listen to them side by side to see the similarity between them, and when I checked my links to the Marvin Gaye song, they all had takedown notices. Shortly after the case was decided, finding a copy of Marvin Gaye’s song ‘Got to Give it Up’ was extremely difficult to find. You would think ‘Blurred Lines’ would have gotten taken down, but the original by Gaye has been taken down more than ‘Blurred Lines’ has,” said Diana Montague, assistant professor of communication at UF.

Another major problem the YouTube bots have is that they don’t know what fair use is in copyright law.

“Fair use is admitting you violated copyright. If you’re using copyrighted material for an educational purpose, you have a very strong defense. If you’re only using a very limited amount, then you’re not infringing on the money that someone is making,” said Montague.

Copyright is a tough topic to understand. When people are able to download material online and not worry about the consequences, it’s hard for artists to create good material to support themselves off of it.

“Having friends that are artists, I’ve seen how hard it is for them to make a living,” said Du Frense. “Because people illegally download music much more frequently, the only way an artist can make money is by playing live events.”

Some may ask why copyright still exists if it creates so many problems.

“Copyright is to protect the economic value of creative work. So if we didn’t have copyright, then we probably would have a lot less creative material out there,” said Montague. “People need to look at copyright as a property issue. Protecting the rights of the creator. Part of the problem is it’s so easy to commit copyright infringement because people don’t see it as stealing. When people commit infringement it lessens the value of the work.”

Laws have been put into place over the years. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allowed for stricter rules and regulations on copyright when it enters the online world. The law can change, but it is more reactive than it is proactive.

“Where we’re at today, it’s hard for the laws to keep up with the new technology,” said Miller. “If you try to make a law for a situation happening today, that situation may be irrelevant in three or five years.”

There are those that don’t believe copyright will ever affect them, but the truth is, it can happen to anyone.

“This was not the first time our material had been taken,” said Miller. “I was scrolling through my Facebook page, not expecting to see anything interesting and then I saw a picture of me. I thought that’s cool someone shared our post. The more I looked at it and read the language, I saw he had copy and pasted our photo rather than giving it the attribution.”

Miller says it’s not that people don’t want their materials shared, they just want them to be shared in the right way.

“We’re not opposed of people sharing our stuff on social media, but we want them to at least attribute it to us,” said Miller.

Many don’t understand why numbers of YouTube videos get taken down every day, but it all comes back to copyright and awareness.

“I think the biggest key is awareness,” said Du Frense. “Bringing awareness to this topic through training courses of some sort might help. There are fair use laws and that’s probably the hardest thing for people to understand. The person doing the posting is the one responsible for knowing copyright and the law, but I don’t think people fully understand copyright law completely.”







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