User-Generated Content That's Not User-Generated

According to a report on, YouTube has identified a user who is accused of uploading copyrighted material.

Three weeks after YouTube received a subpoena from the U.S. District Court in Northern California, YouTube turned over the information they have on the username ECOTtotal.

That user is alleged to have uploaded twelve episodes of The Simpsons that have already aired, and also some episodes of the Fox show, 24, BEFORE they ran on television. (There is a second site, LiveDigital, that also had the content and is named in a subpoena.)

Though some online bloggers are claiming that the 24 episodes had already appeared on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks prior to their appearance on YouTube, that really doesn't help the user's case. It might show that companies are more willing to go after "legitimate" sites like YouTube (which was purchased last fall by Google for $1.56 billion) that have not only high profiles, but user information (accounts) and deep pockets. Ultimately, it's probably a pretty straightforward use of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

I wonder if ECOTtotal actually gave any valid information when he registered with YouTube. Other than IP addresses, there's a good chance that any account info they have is bogus anyway.

The issue probably isn't whether it was OK to upload the content - it wasn't. The issue is more about what information about users can or should be given, how it is obtained and by whom.

This comes on the heels of Viacom telling YouTube to remove 100,000 clips of content they own uploaded from programs on MTV, Comedy Central and other networks. Although I can imagine moves such as this leading to "agreements" and deal$ (as it did earlier for YouTube & NBC), in this case it didn't result in any money being exchanged.

More successful was Digital Music Group who did make a deal with Google for some of their video content and music recordings to be available online. Then again, I'm not sure there has been as big of an underground of uploaders and downloaders who were after their episodes of Gumby, I Spy and My Favorite Martian as viewers of 24 and The Simpsons. But never underestimate the public - there were 307,000 hits for "my favorite martian" on Google, so...


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