Viacom & Google – what's really going on?

So, we have one enormous company suing another over alleged copyright breaches — big deal — right?

Well kind of.

Everyone is so interested in this case because it’s at the cutting edge of technology and the law. (Indeed, in a Jun 18 WSJ article, Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google said that they’re developing tools to automate the take down process — which would remove the need for the suit.)

Sure, but there’s more.

It’s also about the limtis of legitimate shackles on the exchange of ideas and information while allowing people to sensibly deal with intellectual property on the internet — right?

If the take down process is automated by the new Google tools, so that infringing content is on a site for say, no more than an hour — then is that ok? What about a minute? 10 Seconds? How long does it take to download this stuff, anyway?

Conversely — if we put too many shackles on the exchange of ideas on the internet — what are we losing along with it? Can we quantify that?

In criminal law in many countries, there’s a higher burden of proof needed to establish a conviction (than there is in an equivalent civil case, say for the equivalent civil wrong or tort). Why is that?

It’s because, in general, the community would rather cast a smaller net. It’s a greater wrong to wrongly convict an innocent man than it is to not convict a person who has committed a crime.

The size of the net seems to be important in sorting out the Viacom v Google mess — and all the others that will follow.

Shouldn’t the community get together and decide?

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