In the Wild West of the Internet, Prince calls in the sheriff

October 2007


Prince has hired UK company Web Sheriff in a move to “reclaim the Internet” and he is preparing to file lawsuits against YouTube, eBay and The Pirate Bay, for allegedly encouraging copyright violations, Prince plans to file suit in both the United States and the U.K., and has hired a Swedish law firm to take action against The Pirate Bay, the BitTorrent tracking site, Web sheriff’s John Giacobbi said that “In the past couple of weeks, we have removed about 2,000 infringing clips from YouTube,” Giacobbi said. “We get them down and the next day, there are 100 or 200 more. Their business model is built on making money off other people’s creative work.” Hani Durzy, a spokesman for eBay said the company has programs in place to help rights holders protect their property. Prince’s action against YouTibe owner’s Google is not without precedent, Google and YouTube already face a $1 billion lawsuit filed earlier this year by media-conglomerate Viacom and a class-action suit filed by a group that includes several professional European sports leagues. Google has always said that it obeys copyright laws. The company maintains that the safe harbour provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects service providers from any illegal acts committed by users. YouTube removes copyright work once notified by an owner. But the response of both eBay ad YouTube demonstrate one of the new problems of the digital age. Their business models are built on an open access system – they will – within certain limits – accept anything from users. YouTube have repeatedly promised better and better filtering blocks to stop unauthorised copyrighted film, television and music content reaching the site and eBay has it’s VERO system to allow copyright and trade mark owners to demand items are withdrawn from auction. But the cost of policing this is massive – Prince may well be able to afford this in the short term but to some it seems unfair that he (or any artist) must relentlessly pursue big big businesses at the artist’s cost and it seems almost impossible for eBay or YouTube to deny that their ‘legitimate’ businesses are, to an extent, built on the infringing and sometimes illegal activities of their users. The Pirate Bay’s response was more interesting – they say they hadn’t received any take down notices as their spam filters dealt with such matters!

No Comments

Comments are closed.