Here’s a copyright story that has nothing to do with music downloads or movie piracy.
As was widely reported following the Vancouver hockey riots, social media was used to crowdsource a vigilante effort to identify the jerks who tore up their own city. Sites like Identifyrioters.com were launched to post pictures of the mayhem. They encourage users to click an “I know who this is!” button to link a pic to a person. Allegations are not posted publicly. They’re forwarded to the cops, who can follow up and see if the names fit the pics. Facebook also hosted similar armchair vigilante efforts, and video of the carnage was posted and scrutinized several sites. The online exposure was such that some rioters turned themselves in after finding their douchebaggery digitally documented.
But some of the hooligans exposed on Youtube found a clever way to get the video removed—copyright claims. Under Youtube’s “Notice and Takedown” policy, all you need to do is claim you own the rights to a video and demand that it be removed, and Youtube will remove it. The video’s uploader will be informed of the allegation and then have a chance to challenge it.
But here’s the rub: in order to claim ownership of a video’s copyright, you have to identify yourself. And when Youtube informs the uploader that they’re being accused of a copyright violation, they have to tell them who their accuser is. So rioters are indirectly handing their names over to the very people who were trying to identify them.
Dave Teixeira of Port Coquitlam runs the site canucksriot2011.com. He posted a video of a guy getting hit in the groin with a stun grenade. Youtube told him “Flashing Nut Shot” was removed due to a copyright complaint filed by a certain individual. Texieria simply forwarded the complainer’s name to the police.