back to article French high court thumps Google Video

A French high court has added some extra spice to the legal debate over online video sharing. In mid-October, the High Court of the First Instance of Paris issued a ruling against Google Video after it was sued by a Paris-based film company called Zadig Productions. Naturally, Zadig was peeved that Google was hosting one of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    All this, the google and eby thangs, suggest to me a good, honest and heartfelt drive to good practice.

    The technologies are mature and out of infancy and so should, in my opinion, readily and willingly conform to good practice.

    It is just one meagre way to take stuff on to good and wholesomely pragmatic doability.

    We know it makes sense? Yes?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupidity in froggyland

    The frogs never had King Canute did they?

    Pity, they might have learnt a few things.

  3. JeffyPooh


    Then video posting with transform keys will become the norm... Inversion, reversal, colour swap, etc.

    The three laws of WorldWideWibbledynamics:

    1. You can't win.

    2. You can't break even.

    3. You can't quit.

  4. Bruce

    Just another example

    Of people trying to find a technical fix for a social 'problem'. If it's illegal, pull it down. You can't block it or stop it without blocking legit uploads.

    Deal with it and move on.

  5. J
    Paris Hilton


    Where is the Paris... oh, forget it.

  6. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    @ J

    Paris is in France.

  7. Tony Barnes

    Video ID

    "We have launched Video Identification on YouTube only, but we expect to implement the technology on Google Video in the future,"

    Paraphrased as:

    "We are trying to block the vast majority of preffered content from our $1.65 Billion litigation bollock drop. We will then let it throttle our own, home brew variant"

    Nice work guys...

  8. Spleen

    Pretty simple really

    YouTube, Google Video, whatever all make money off hosting others' copyrighted material without permission. They know perfectly well that most people aren't there to watch 'user-generated content' of cats talking or people falling over (if people really liked that sort of thing so much, You've Been Framed would have been the most-watched programme on television). They're a fig leaf.

    Either this can be made legal or the sites can either shut down or suck up a massive drop in revenue. But you're living in cloud-cuckoo land if you expect the courts to just ignore it. Particularly when a huge corporation like Google is profiting from it. If Microsoft owned YouTube instead of Google then I expect everyone would be crying about Micro$haft profiting by trampling over artists' rights. Google's PR can only protect them so long.

  9. Nìall Tracey

    Publisher, not printer.

    Google et al have convinced the USA that they're a mere printers, when for all the world they appear to be publishers.

    US law protects hosts from copyright suits where their customers have uploaded infringing content, because the traditional host had no stake in a content, just as a printer has no stake in a book.

    A printer gets paid the same regardless of the content of the book he prints, and the book contains only a tiny notice saying who printed it. The printer even gets paid if the book doesn't shift a single copy.

    A publisher splashes his branding all over the book, writing it in the "house style". At the back of his books, you'll often also get a list of other books by the same publisher (note: publisher, NOT author). Crucially, his profits are a direct result of the popularity of his books' contents and he doesn't make any money if the book doesn't sell.

    A traditional subscription-based hosting service is like a printer. You pay, you get the "paper" of your webpage. The host doesn't need to look at your content. There's a tiny sentence (6 or 8 pt font) at the bottom of the page saying who hosts it.

    Google Video, YouTube et al are massively branded in their own "house style", peppered with logos and glyphs. On each page there is a house-generated list of other videos you might be interested in, all published on the same site but by different users. Google's profit is heavily dependant on the content: being an ad-driven model, they need eye-holding content.

    They argue that they can't monitor all content. Would we accept that from other publishers? A newspaper that printed reader submissions without any editorial control would be sued to high heavens for libel.

    And to those who continually complain that "the business model wouldn't work" if they were legally obliged to screen content, couldn't that same argument be applied to any crime?

    EG "The honorable member for London South proposes that grievous bodily harm be legalised as this law is interfering with the business plan set out by Ned White's for his Kneecap Removal Service."

  10. Anthony

    Sharing is bad mkay

    Why not have a system whereby all content is watched prior to sharing? Much like Wiki with its editorial review and monitoring system, users could watch and rate content before it is hosted. Admittedly after the recent Wiki editorial meltdown this is a really bad example but I'd happily give up my day job if I got paid to watch Google / YouTube videos all day. Not only would it keep the sites legal, it would also stop the immense mass of user produced total garbage from clogging up the Internet and Googles servers.

  11. Nick Drew

    Video fingerprinting doesn't work though?

    Intrinsic problem here though - as I understand it, the two video clips (the one used as the copyright reference, the other being the one posted by a user) have to have the same size, exact same length and cover the same period of time, right? This size, length, colour, pixellation etc is then turned into a long-string number that's used as the 'fingerprint'.

    While I'm guessing google will have developed it somewhat further than that, the truth surely is that there are myriad ways to vary the clip slightly (generally unintentionally) so that it doesn't match the 'fingerprint' - by it being a couple of seconds shorter, low quality with static etc.

    Oh, and why is it that the French courts seem utterly oblivious to the *actual* way things work?! Handing down judgments that are generally meaningless because they're not economically or technologically viable.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Let's face it, anyone can put up their own website and host their own videos. The reason people use sites like Google is because it is

    a) Easier, and

    b) Google wil get hit by the legal action, not them.

    So why does Google let this happen? Because it makes money out of those (l)users. So why shouldn't it get sued for this? It is knowingly offering a way for people to engage in dodgy practices, in order to make money, so it has 100% of the moral responsibility to police this.

    And, incidentally, to AC on the subject of King Canute, he did not, as people seem to believe, think he could stop the tide coming in. His stunt on the beach was done to prove to his sycophantic courtiers that even Kings had limitations, and so show that even he could not command the sea.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Not only about copyrighted material

    What about all other illegal material that one can easily find on YouTube? And why do I need to register to YouTube to report illegal material??? Come on, this is just not acceptable. Who cares about fingerprinting, review the content and approve.

    Too expensive? Makes for a bad business case? Move to the carpet cleaning business then!

    We know that it's just excuses because illegal and copyrighted material is what is driving ad revenues. I am appalled.

  14. Greg

    @Nick Drew

    >Oh, and why is it that the French courts seem utterly oblivious to the *actual* way things work?! Handing down judgments that are generally meaningless because they're not economically or technologically viable.

    For a very simple reason, already explained two posts above your own query.

    Because the law does not need to, and even MUST NOT care about whether complying with it is economically viable.

    If it is unlawful to steal copyright, then you get punished for it. If the law is lenient enough to let you off the first time provided you remove it, it does not mean it has to be lenient if you continue publishing it.

    Once it's settled it is unlawful because it's stealing (which I oppose, but well it's law), then law must be abided by, and that's it.

    If google cannot technically or commercially implement a filter, then they just have to close shop, it's as simple as that.

    Last year I had created a small company where I offered killing contracts for a budget.

    Then I was told I could not lawfully kill.

    Crap, the restriction I had on my business was "meaningless because they're not economically or technologically viable". And you know what? The courts, just like french ones, didn't seem to care.

    I finally had to close shop and make another living.

    I hate those courts "oblivious to the way *actual* things work".

    Do you see the point? If you can't (or it's too costly/impractical to) make your activity comply with law, don't do the activity. Simple.

  15. Mark


    The reason that Google cannot do it is because only the copyright holder knows whether something is THEIR copyright and whether they are OK with it being there. Google don't know. This is because there's no need for registration of copyright. So when something is posted, how do you know who to contact? The only contact name you have is the person who uploaded it. And if they are going to turn round and say "oh, yeah, I uploaded that to you without permission" then why did they put it there in the first place?

    What if the newspapers got a letter from me within which I'd copied someone else's text and sent it in. If they print my letter, are they guilty of copyright infringement? Should they have to check everyone's words so that they know who owns the copyright?

    That's what you're asking Google to do.

    Ask whether you check the provenance of any code, image, sound or other copyrightable/patentable/trademarkable content before using it in your workplace. Do you check EVERY patent to see if it covers what you want to do at work (in every country, if you're on the internet or could sell abroad)? If it's too expensive or doesn't make good business sense, tough luck, isn't it? You'd better go out of business.

    What's being asked isn't feasable. All that is needed is a process whereby someone can say "that's mine and I don't want it there", google passes this on to the person who uploaded it and takes it offline. the person who put it up can countermand the accusation, google passes this on to the person who complained and puts it back. The disagreement is now between the two people claiming the right to the work being placed on google (which could be fair use rather than the submitter being copyright owner). That's all that google (or your company, or the newspapers, etc) can do.

  16. Mark


    Stupid analogy.

    Think more about a dating website.

    You don't actually (as a company) go out dating all the respondents. All you are is a conduit between people. If two people meet and despite a warning that care should be taken, something terrible happens, you are NOT held responsible.

    The only way of Youtube/Google/etc to be anywhere near your analogy is if they themselves were posting known copyrighted material on their site to make money. Y'know what, that's still illegal and nobody needs watermarks or fingerprinting to tackle pirate distributors. So it isn't needed in this case either.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    To Mark


    I am not saying that pre-approval would be bulletproof. But allowing to post and then taking action only if notified (by YouTube registered users only!!) is just a trick.

    And for a video of someone stealing in the supermarket or driving a motorcycle at 200 mph you don't need to consult with copyrhight holders only with your brain.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dating site analogy

    Talk about stupid analogies!!!

    If a crime is committed involving two people who met in a dating site, that doesn't mean that one of the dating advert was infringing the law. In Google case it is what they publish that infringes the law.

    And how can you pretend that copyright doesn't exist on TV programs or movies. I can understand the isssue for some more obscure material but most of copyright infringments on YouTube can be spotted half a second after pressing the big "play" button!

  19. Greg


    >Think more about a dating website.

    You don't actually (as a company) go out dating all the respondents. All you are is a conduit between people. If two people meet and despite a warning that care should be taken, something terrible happens, you are NOT held responsible.

    The point is, unfortunately my example does hold, and yours doesn't.

    It is forbidden to publish copyrighted material, just like it is forbidden to kill (or even to act as a conduit between killers and "customers" if you've been warned repeatedly that one of your killers is a killer).

    It is not forbidden to publish dating requests even if the dating goes wrong.

    In the first case, you're a knowing actor. In the second, you're not.

    Now back to my business. I tried again and this time, I thought I'd just take a 10% cut of any contract between providers and customers who met thanks to me. The provider comes, he meets the customer, a murder takes place and he's proven to be guilty.

    Once. Twice. Thrice. Always I'm bringing him the customers. Not doing the killing, just allowing him to meet the customer.

    Now a judge told me after the third time that I had to not allow him to meet customers.

    At least if he didn't have a different hat compared to last time, or a moustache.

    Not even report him to the police, oh no, just refuse taking him in.

    But hey, that's really unfair, how am I supposed to recognize a guy who didn't change a single piece of clothing or hairface since last time I saw him, and still have a business?

    I failed to comply. I didn't fail to complain though, cos' obviously that's sooooo unfair.

    So think again please.

    What is asked is just that if the EXACT SAME file is proposed again, not even modified by one byte, thenit can't be posted. Whoh, that's really, really unpractical and unfair to a business that did nothing wrong.

    Except, that is, have 90% of its business come from illegal postings.

  20. Mark



    a) How will pre-approval work? If someone has put it on there, how does Google know it isn't the copyright holder? If they are supposed to take their word for it, how is this any different than letting them put what they want up WITHOUT approval? If not, where are Google to look for the copyright holder information (given there is no registration)? Can't work.

    b) Selling stolen goods is illegal. So if I were to put up at the local post office an advert selling something (that I've stolen but neglected to mention on the ad), is the post office liable for dealing in stolen goods? You see on the same billboard adverts for other people's stuff and Post Office services. How about selling a stolen car on Autotrader (which sells advertising space), should Autotrader be held liable for dealing in stolen cars? Should Autotrader make a background check into every advert paid in?

    Now if Youtube are putting people to work for pay to look at ALL that stuff, who benefits? The recording industry. So why should google police on behalf of them? And if they DO have people there, how do they know that the work has fallen out of copyright, or that the person putting it there owns it? Note that according to copyright owners, even your own baby dancing along (as babies do) to a music track is copyright infringement. But does it fall under fair use (after all, the baby would be dancing to anything playing with a beat)? And how are these google employees supposed to know? They'd have to be judges specialising in copyright laws (and international ones at that!).

    Not. Going. To. Work.

  21. Greg


    Please stop comparing the post, the dating or whatever unvoluntarily helping an infringement once.

    What the court said here is that if something has been REPEATEDLY notified to a PUBLISHER (the post gives the parcel to you and is finished with it, it does not put the illegal material on display in the post office) as being illegal, he should stop if he reasonnably can.

    and oh so reasonnable it is. Just make a hash code (even emule can do that very easily) and if something has been jusdged illegal once, ban reposting the exact same thing.

    Do you have any notion what a hash code is? It takes about 50 lines of code to do a basic version of such a thing, and every peer-to-peer software has doe it for years to spot fakes (you know, when you're receiving something LEGAL when you wanted something illegal).

    Sure it's more complex because it has to be integrated in the googlevideo framework, but it's still not such an achievment.

    See, even google says you're wrong, when they say, interviewed, that they already have this on youtube.

    Oh god, that can't ever be done, stop bashing google... what? Google is saying google does it? Google is part of the french "I ask for the moon" anti-google conspiracy then.

    The real point is, if it's just a hash-coding, then changing one second of a one-hour video is enough to make it undetectable. Still, that would stop 95% of the repost as very few people would go through the motion of video-editing.

    It's really just requesting a token effort on google's side.

    I reckon, though, that your previous post replies to the suggestion of having a human watch all the videos, which indeed would be crazy.

    But have a basic program that can be coded in two days and then plugged in 6 months by one trainee is much more reasonable a request

  22. Mark


    Look at my response to AndyS. I think I got your two posts answered in one.

  23. Steve Browne

    Dont understand the fuss

    Google are informed there is a problem with a particular document, they remove it and make a reasonable attempt at preventing it from being republished. If they are unable to do that, then they remove their service as they are not permitted to break the law.

    No need to discuss technology or the ways and means, the law is there to guide society and to curb the excesses of the few (like Google) for the benefit of everyone and must be obeyed.

    If you want analogies, the best is the Theft Act. It is illegal to handle goods knowing or believing them to be stolen. Google are informed that something is"stolen" and they are required to remove it form their site, it seems reasonable, now that they are aware of "stolen" content to take some steps to preventing it from appearing again.

  24. Mark

    @steve browne

    How about car manufacturers? Speeding is a crime. If car manufacturers can't stop people speeding, maybe they should close up shop.

    It's the people POSTING on Google/MS/Yahoo who are breaking the law by posting material they haven't the right to put there. NOT Google. NOT MS. NOT Yahoo. The person posting.

    Now, the account could get suspended (and, IIRC does if it keeps producing illegal content) but asking each account to be verified would have stopped the anonymous posting of repression and other far more serious CRIMES (unlike the CIVIL TORT that is copyright infringement).

    If there's a crime being committed by Google, then make a criminal case against them.

  25. Hanin Elias


    performance artists need to stop asking us to pay for every rendition of some crap they've done. if you don't like people sharing the "fruits" of your labor.. get into a different career! why do we have to support the careers and lifestyles of others? there's no law saying you must be paid for doing anything. so... if you're not getting what you expected... stop doing it and find something else! most healthy businesses thrive through diversity of product/service and innovation. if you can't produce/provide a product/service that people are actually willing to pay for because they believe it's worth buying, then find something else to make/market. it seems that since so many appear to be cashing in on the gullibility of the masses, others believe it to be their right to reward for their abilities to make people pay for junk!

  26. Mark
    Thumb Down

    "It is forbidden to publish copyrighted material"

    Greg, that was copyrighted material. El Reg published it. Is it illegal???

    And the case here isn't REPEATEDLY told, they were told about several actions that were illegal (allegedly, since no court has proven anything) ONCE EACH.

    That's not "repeatedly". That's once, or the police have been repeatedly told about murders and done nothing about it (one unsolved murder, many murders reported, therefore, by your "logic", the police have done nothing about the thousands of murder reports).

    Get your head out of your arse.

  27. Jim Lewis

    Easier to chase users

    Without getting into the ramifications and implications for Google's responsibility, surely the easiest way to curb this is to require users to register details which would allow them to be traced in the event that they repeatedly posted copyrighted material.

    Anyone breaching the post no copyrighted material would be personally responsible for it.

    After a few high profile cases I'm sure much less such material would be posted.

    No need for complicated fingerprinting etc.

    As long as Google or YouTube made the identities of the people concerned available when requested they would have done enough in my view.

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