SF Debris

By Shamus Posted Monday May 23, 2011

Filed under: Nerd Culture 129 comments


If the internet has shown us anything, it’s that discussing entertainment is just as important as consuming it. We take in a game, movie, book, or television show, and then we Alt-TAB to another window and see what other people think. They discuss the thing, exchange impressions, and then they go off and make new stuff as a way of sharing the experience. Maybe they make some motivational posters, sing a song, make a mashup, produce some fanfiction, perpetuate a flamewar, record a Let’s Play, or sew some costumes for cosplay. Once in a while someone really desperate and crazy will make an entire comic about something. These works, in turn, lead to a new round of consumption and discussion, which can lead to more works. It’s like the Circle of Life, but for nerdy entertainment.

Content producers aim for big box office returns, high ratings, or brisk sales, but for me the real test of the success of a thing is how much it continues to live on in the public consciousness. How much does it resonate with the public and engender imitation or comment? Avatar was a box office smash, but it doesn’t seem to be permeating our culture and spawning memes. I never hear people quoting the movie. It came, it went. Golf clap. On the other hand, I was able to make this comic twenty years after The Princess Bride was in theaters, and most people got the joke. Actually, they didn’t just “get it”, they joined in, extending the joke in ways that hadn’t occurred to me at the time. The Transformers movie might have been a smash hit that dwarfed the ratings of the 80’s cartoon, but in twenty years I guarantee that everyone will still know who Optimus Prime is, and nobody will remember Sam Witwicky’s name.

A few months ago I discovered SF Debris, a website / YouTube channel run by Chuck Sonnenberg, who does video reviews of Red Dwarf, Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Dr. Who. He’s been at it for almost three years, and has a huge collection of reviews to offer. Or rather, he did. A while back. CBS claimed that his ten-minute video Star Trek reviews were infringing on the hour-long episodes he was reviewing. BBC made a similar claim about his Dr. Who shows. The result was that his content – his three years of content – was removed by YouTube.

On one hand, I can understand YouTube’s position. They have thousands and thousands of hours of content uploaded to their site every single day. They can’t possibly keep up with every claim against every work. They can’t afford to go into court every single time there’s an argument over rights. On the other hand, SF Debris is absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably in the right. His reviews are protected under fair use laws everywhere in the civilized world. Excerpting an original work for the purposes of parody and review is explicitly protected by copyright law.

YouTube’s policy seems to be that all copyright claims [made by wealthy, powerful media companies] are accepted without review and the content is removed without opportunity for protest, explanation, or appeal. They might be saving themselves some courtroom hassle now, but they are paving the way for a future with no fair use. I think rolling over for these companies is like negotiating with kidnappers. It will only embolden them.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, YouTube (well, Google, really) might be simply trying to err on the side of caution. Maybe they’re afraid of going to court and losing, which might open them up for damages and (worse) establish rulings that can be used to further weaken fair use. Maybe they’re hoping the EFF will take up this fight instead. I don’t know. If anything, we at least deserve some more transparency from them regarding this. Free speech is a big deal and I’d like to know that Google is at least aware of this problem.

The real villains here are the creatures at CBS. Their actions aren’t just an attack of crucial elements of free speech, they’re also destructive and self-defeating. Star Trek: The Next Generation went off the air 17 years ago. The SF Debris reviews weren’t infringing on the rights of CBS. They certainly weren’t causing damages. Nobody is going to watch a ten-minute review of an episode of TNG (with all of the original audio removed and replaced with a man talking!) and mistake that for watching the entire thing. If anything, these reviews increase the relevance of the show and will cause people to seek it out on DVD. What would CBS prefer? That nobody talk about Trek? Is that the bright future they dream of, where they show isn’t discussed unless they get a cut?

Like DRM, this is a solution with no winners. YouTube is deprived of popular content. CBS gets less sales. The YouTube community is deprived of some thoughtful, witty, and well-informed entertainment. Chuck Sonnenberg has to pack up his show and start over on another site, leaving behind most of his archives, comments, and a portion of his audience. Everyone loses.

SF Debris has moved to Blip.TV. I’ve always hated Blip. They suffer from the same obnoxious stupidity as Livestream, in that they don’t give the user volume control during the commercials. (This shows a profound lack of respect for the audience, particularly since the ads seem to be deliberately designed to be as loud as possible. I wouldn’t advertise on Blip, knowing my product was going to be associated with feelings of frustration and annoyance on the part of the audience.) Blip also bugs out and sometimes forgets to show you the video after the commercial, forcing you to reload the page and watch the commercial again. The site is slow, clunky, buggy, and lacking in features. However, it’s pretty much the only place to go if you’re vulnerable to copyright trolls.

Check out his stuff. It would be nice if this brought about a happy ending for Sonnenberg and his material was able to reach a wider audience. It would also be nice if we could use his videos to teach the next generation of young people just how much Star Trek: Voyager sucked.

They’re never too young to learn.

EDIT: Ah! You CAN turn down the ads on Blip.tv. I use Livestream all the time, and they remove the controls during the ads, causing them to blast you at full volume. The controls auto-HIDE on Blip, but they come back with a mouseover. I saw it looking like Livestream and assumed it was the same deal. Still don’t like Blip, but it’s not as bad as I thought.


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129 thoughts on “SF Debris

  1. Nathon says:

    I don’t have a link handy right now, but YouTube’s policy is to comply with the DMCA by immediately removing anything that’s purported to be infringing. Then the person who uploaded the supposedly infringing content can tell YouTube that they’re contesting the claim and have it put back. A while ago a law professor at Columbia or some such did this and the copyright holder filed another takedown notice, illegally. They got smacked around.

    There it is. Good stuff, this DMCA of ours. Protecting the interests of the people with all the money while chilling free speech.

    1. skeeto says:

      Yeah, this isn’t really a YouTube policy to “accept without review” and immediately remove content. That’s the DMCA. A host in the US (and sometimes outside the US) must have that ridiculous policy or else the US government sends people with guns to shut them down. If YouTube didn’t use the DMCA they’d be held liable for each infringement, rather than the user, and they wouldn’t last a single day.

      1. James says:

        When was the last documented example of the US sending “people with guns” to shut down a business headquartered in another nation?

        Because thats the whole point of basing your company in another country – for example a bunch of big poker sites just got busted in the US, but will evade US law enforcement by virtue of basing their company in another nation.

        1. skeeto says:

          Here’s the most famous example. It was Swedish police actually doing the raid, but who put all the pressure on on Sweden to do it?

        2. jwwzeke says:

          Well, while not quite “going in with guns blazing” I do remember a few years back when one of the owners/operators of an online gambling site based out of somewhere in Europe was arrested and held in the US. Online gambling sites was illegal in the state he visited, and people in that state were using his site, so obviously he was assisting criminal behavior, and should be arrested.

          Bizarre. And that’s the kind of stupid that seems to be allowed sometimes.

          Still not sure why the ISPs that didn’t just block access to those sites from within their own state weren’t up on charges instead. Not sure I’d agree with doing that… but it makes more sense than arresting a guy for doing something in his own country that is completely legal there.

  2. Eric says:

    It really is a shame. I know several content creators who have since moved to Blip even though it sucks, because it’s one of the few video hosting sites that doesn’t go after people for petty copyright stuff. I imagine that it’s less a policy of CBS’ to go after specific creators than it is to simply sweep up every potentially infringing thing they can find, but either way, the over-protective attitude isn’t at all helpful. They aren’t losing money, their property isn’t being damaged and if anything they should be thankful they have an audience that cares about some of their content to this degree. Someone needs to show these guys that they can’t take the people keeping them in business for granted… but I sure can’t think of a way to do that, save for adopting a life of hermitude

    1. Raygereio says:

      one of the few video hosting sites that doesn't go after people for petty copyright stuff

      Actually blip.tv isn’t some awesome haven that’s somehow untouchable by the threat of lawsuites from the big companies. If CBS would approach blip.tv right now with the same complaint as they did youtube, then SFDebris’ videos there would also be removed.

      The only reason sites like blip aren’t approached like this is because they’re still small and – most importantly – relativly unknown when compared to youtube.
      This is also the reason why SFdebris’ videos were targetted instead of the many, many full episodes of Star Trek you can easily find on youtube. The former has become well known, the latter isn’t.

      1. Chibi C'thulhu says:

        That is quite possibly the most bull**** thing for a company to do.

  3. Joshua says:

    It’s not YouTube policy, it’s the law. Under the DMCA, in order to qualify for the safe harbor exception and not be liable for every damn thing posted, they must respond to legitimately issued takedown notices regardless of the underlying merits by removing the material; the alleged infringer then has the opportunity to file a counter-notice… if they do then YouTube must notify the party who claimed infringement, who has a certain amount of time to file a suit, and if they don’t file the suit, YouTube must restore the material.

    1. Shamus says:

      Arg. I STILL have trouble wrapping my head around the DMCA. I mean, I get how it works, I just always forget to take it into account when analyzing stuff like this. It’s such a horrible abomination. A law, passed by the ignorant, at the behest of the corrupt, funded by the privileged. A “guilty until proven innocent” approach to curtailing free speech. And the issue is sufficiently complicated that you’ll never get the public at large to care.

      It’s enough to make me want to join Annonymous and act like an assclown in the name of futile protest.

      1. Shamus says:

        Well… aren’t you in a chipper mood today?

        1. Falcon says:

          Don’t worry, the DMCA (damn media controlling america) is able to turn even the most reasoned individuals into raving loonies with prolonged exposure.

        2. Nathon says:

          Exceptions to the “no politics” rule are easy to make when there is no justifiable opposing position.

          1. Shamus says:


            Also, it’s easier when you don’t care about the opposition. I want people of all political, economic, religious, and ethnic groups to feel welcome here. Gay republicans, trans-gendered Native Americans, Liberal gun collectors, hipster left-handed retro-tech fetishists, Halo fans. Everybody. But if Bob Viacom shows up and complains that I’m not being fair to his pro-DMCA ways, I’d gladly tell him to take a hike. Being different is fine. Having unconventional views is fine. (I certainly have my share.) But being a predatory mountebank who uses his wealth to impair the freedom of a nation puts him in a whole different league. Those guys are villains. Eff them.

            1. BenD says:

              Oh man! Halo fans?!

              Actually, if Bob Viacom shows up and complains, I suggest that we all chat him up and welcome him to the community and point him to posts of interest around the Shamusphere. Maybe he’ll go away and make Viacom better as a result.

            2. Bubble181 says:

              Even those odd people using words like “mountebank”?

            3. Norcross says:

              There is a perfectly good argument to the “guilty until proven innocent” thing. If someone broke into your house, would you want the police to arrest the guy and then let him go if he turns out to be innocent; or would you rather they let him stay, take whatever he wants (not to mention rape/murder/etc), set up a court date, and only bother arresting him if he is found guilty? I’m guessing most of you would want to police to do their job, even though that means treating someone as if he were a criminal and restricting his rights before the courts have issued a ruling on his guilt or innocence.

              Likewise, if something actually is infringing on a copyright, the copyright owner is obligated to stop them. Suppose (whatever the big movie that’s coming out this Friday) was posted online in full. If the movie company has to send out a notice, wait seven days for a reply, get a court hearing for six months from now to review whether they can issue a restraint, etc like so many of the “I’m entitled to get everything I want for free and screw the big companies that actually go through the trouble of making it for me” people online seem to want, then the whole thing would be pointless – the damage would already be done. Content providers want to stop illegal use before the damage is done. If it ends up really being fair use, then the delay usually isn’t going to harm the user (for example, how much does it harm anyone if a 17-year-old Star Trek clip is removed from YouTube for a month while they review it? Certainly a hell of a lot less damage than would be caused by leaving real copyright-infringing content to remain up for the same amount of time!)

              1. Soylent Dave says:

                Yes, it is similar to detaining a suspect while the authorities gather evidence.

                But it is worth bearing in mind that there is content which can be affected by only being removed for a few days – if you’re reviewing (or previewing) new releases, for example; your viewership probably depends on your videos being up-to-date.

                Satire is also very much ‘of the moment’; removing a video from YouTube for even a week could make content redundant (or old hat). You know how fast the internet moves; hot topics last week are ancient history this week.

                Big companies can therefore use the temporary removal to effectively quash criticism and satire to the point that it only surfaces after the public has lost interest in whatever issue the video was about.

              2. zob says:

                Nice try I even bought it for a moment there. You are comparing an actual crime (a guy who broke into my home) with something may look like a crime (a guy speaking over an old tv show). And finding them both guilty until proven innocent.

                Let me throw some ad hominem back at you. Do you shoot electricians in your doorway? Forget that your landlord hired them to fix your light they might as well be a home invasion crew.

                Oh and as a side note, unless you are some kind of draconian lawmaker willing to shoot jaywalkers on sight, stop comparing piracy with rape or home invasion. That’s thoughtless at best.

                1. Chibi C'thulhu says:

                  I have to resist the urge to make a joke about a rapist in Lincoln Park.
                  Oh, wait…

              3. Sara Pickell says:

                If I called the police and told them you were breaking into your own house, they would be required to have probable cause in order to make an arrest. In fact if you could present proper identification and proof of ownership, there is a very good chance I could be SENT TO JAIL.

                We already have a reasonable precedent for how to handle situations where it pays to be timely, probable cause or more loosely reasonable suspicion. This allows for neither, and although it’s civil and not criminal, it would benefit no less from the proper application of that language.

            4. Irridium says:

              Halo Fans


          2. Factoid says:

            I think the “no politics” is mostly referring to partisan politics. The DMCA is a fairly nonpartisan piece of legislation. It’s got supporters and decriers on both sides of the isle in relatively equal percentages, it seems.

        3. Amarsir says:

          Delete me if this is out of turn, but are you all right Shamus? I’ve gotten this sense that your posts and Tweets have been a little more on edge for 2-3 months now.

          1. Shamus says:

            In truth, I am a bit on edge. I’m out of work and working on the Great American Novel. I’ll probably level out once I get through this rough spot.

            1. Amarsir says:

              I figure. Lord knows I’ve been known to tilt far worse than you. Just want to make sure you’re being healthy about it. Something like a hike in the woods, even if it’s not usually your thing, does wonders for bloodflow and the resulting mental disposition.

            2. Eärlindor says:

              Sorry to hear that. :(

              In likeness of Armarsir’s comment, you can remove this if you feel it’s not appropriate: if it make you feel any better, we are very much interested in your Great American Novel. :)
              I’m not trying to advertise myself, I just wanted you to know you’ve got more people behind you than you may realize. Just thought it might make you feel better.

              1. Eärlindor says:

                Ack, goofed up my email, typical. Stupid history.

      2. Ingvar M says:

        It is trying to strike a fine balance between “be useful” and “don’t be draconian” (it fails a bit too far towards “be draconian”, IMAO, but…).

        If tis had been a more normal case, dis-associated from digital media, in normal courts, the original suit for infringement would also come with a temporary) cease-and-desist. As the whole idea of the DMCA is to put more pressure on the original content owner to Properly Research things in advance (knowingly filing a false DMCA report is perjury, a pretty serious crime as these things go), I suspect the built-in cease-and-desist is arguably understandable.

        As a former worker-at-ISPs, I find that the “not-world-readable” bits on file permissions were, truly, my friends, because that meant it was relatively easy to restore things once the DMCA request was fully processed (something that happened between the person(s) posting the allegedly infringing content and the person(s) or corporation(s) claiming to have had their copyright infringed).

        I would be surprised if the content was deleted, rather than flagged as “under DMCA investigation” initially, but I don’t know.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          The good part is that, in the USA, in a case like this, it’s quite possible to find a lawyer to take the case on a no-cure-no-pay basis, and fight back for damages.
          In most European countries, it’s illegal to work as a lawyer on a percentage base or no-cure-no-pay, meaning it’s harder for this sort of things to get taken to court.

        2. Michael says:

          Unless I’m remembering incorrectly, the DMCA has a three strikes provision, that says something to the effect of: if a given account receives three uncontested DMCA takedown notices the user must be banned. Now, the intent is arguably that it should be three DMCA takedowns over a period of time, but it’s (apparently (I don’t know personally)) pretty common for someone to get nailed with a storm of multiple takedowns, and basically get a sudden death removal from the service with no DMCA provision for restoration even if the takedowns are, in fact, unjustified due to fair use provisions.

          This is somewhere in the safe harbor provisions if anyone wants to go double check my work.

          1. Ingvar M says:

            Honestly, I do not remember a legal requirement for “three strikes and out”, but that is not entirely uncommon language in terms and conditions (and usually refer to any actionable complaint, not just DMCA take-downs).

        3. Brandon says:

          “knowingly filing a false DMCA report is perjury, a pretty serious crime as these things go)”

          While this is true, fair use is deliberately vague in law. The filers generally (there are exceptions) know that their footage is being used. They do not know for certain that it is qualified fair use. It is likely that very little human attention is given to each instance before notices are sent, especially since many do not contest the notices. Because fair use has to be decided in a court of law on a case-by-case basis, it would be nearly impossible to get a company to be held in violation of the “false notice” provision based on counter-claims of “obvious” fair use, unless the particular item against which the DMCA claim was filed had already been specifically ruled fair use.

          1. Michael says:

            Honestly, while perjury is (ostensibly) fairly serious, it’s rarely enforced.

      3. Joshua says:

        Not that I disagree, but it honestly could be worse. Viacom and their ilk pushed hard for online services to be guilty of contributory infringement if anybody posted infringing material, so it would be on Google/Youtube’s shoulders to actively police everything that was posted or be liable for damages. If that killed the whole thing, so much the better. The whole automatic notice/counter-notice dance is a compromise that demonstrates, if not that the law isn’t completely corrupt, at least that there are forces of corruption pulling in opposite directions. Having to specifically identify and claim copyright infringement post-by-post was a big loss for the copyright mafia, as is (to a lesser extent) needing to follow on with an actual law suit to prevent reinstatement if a counter-claim is filed.

    2. Falcon says:

      An then the corporation does file the suit, and said person (lacking the financial and legal resources of a major company) must kowtow to the demands of an overly litigious and arrogant corporation, or face possible financial ruin with little gain from winning.

      A.K.A. laws were bought and paid for by corporations with the intent of screwing over the little guys. Welcome to the USA, a subsidy of big media.

    3. DanMan says:

      The best part about the DMCA is that it basically enforces guilty until proven innocent. Just one of those small things in the friggin constitution.

      I will assume you are infringing on someone’s rights (you are guilty of a crime) until you petition me to prove that you are legitimate (innocent).

      If I had the money and thought it would actually help, I would try and bring that up in court.

      1. Strangeite says:

        Actually, the presumption of innocence is not specifically spelled out in the Constitution.

        It is one of the bedrocks in English Common Law and the US Supreme Court has affirmed that “Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat” does follow from the 5th, 6th and other amendments.

  4. Dys says:

    Youtube does suffer badly from reflexive copyright terror. What makes it darkly amusing to me is that there are plenty of companies who post material there anonymously as a form of viral marketing. The kicker… often the legal department is unaware of the activities of the marketing department, which leads to companies removing for copyright infringement material they themselves posted.

    I have a vague suspicion that there is an appeals process, by which a user can claim fair use or blatant lying on the part of the copyright holder. I expect there are a multiplicity of defenses depending on the situation. As far as I know, material removed is not actually deleted for some time and can likely be restored if youtube can be convinced to do so.

    All that would likely involve lawyers though, and therefore expense.

  5. GiantRaven says:

    You would think ‘free publicity’ would appeal to such corporations, being free and all.

    1. Michael says:

      Okay, in defense of the DMCA, the (overt) intent wasn’t to go after things protected by fair use. The intent was to provide companies with a tool to remove infringing material on sites. Basically this was intent to be able to pull down stuff on youtube where someone had uploaded an entire film.

      What we’ve ended up with, though, is a system where (literally) anyone can file a takedown on anything without being required to cough up any proof on the subject.

      As evidence: there was an indecent before Modern Warfare 2 where a modmaker for the first game (CoD4) filed a takedown against one of Activision’s pre-release trailers that detailed the killstreak system.

      Some companies seem to understand that this doesn’t give them the right to pull everything they don’t like, while others, such as CBS in this case use it to go after everything that even looks like something they own.

      EDIT: Sorry I rambled a bit…

      Corporations, generally speaking, don’t like anything being outside their control. Regardless of if it helps or hurts them, they’d rather err on the side of “hurts us… somehow” and then, if they want, reuse the material themselves.

      “Free publicity” was kind of a consideration in the DMCA, or at least in so far as the origin of “fair use” doctrine, though I’m really not qualified to speak on fair use’s origins. Though, today, Fair Use is something many corporations (and some other groups, the Tolkien estate for one) would gleefully get rid of if they could.

      EDIT 2: I can’t keep on topic today, sorry. >.<

      Why would a company want free publicity when they're already paying professionals to do that for them?

      Outside of a copyright angle there's the fact that a lot of fan generated material is… well… at best "meh" and at worst in the "hurts us" category. There are certainly exceptions, but, if your company's been provided with tools to squelch that, why not? Reasonably or not.

      For corporations, stuff like this appears to be viewed as something more akin to dealing with vandalism, rather than "free publicity".

  6. Bentusi16 says:

    I’ve done a let’s play myself, and while I was preparing to do my newest one, I got to thinking about it. I can essentially show someone the entire game and have no worries about the game company dropping a law suit on my head because I posted video of it.

    However, if I show a small clip from a TV show or movie, I will probably have my account disabled while legal stuff happens.

    I think about weird stuff.

    The weirdest thing I’ve heard about involving all this was Weird Al’s stuff. Weird Al host his own YouTube channel, where he throws up free songs for people to watch the videos of (Usually his older stuff, but some of the new stuff as well). However, after Vevo came out, his account was disabled for infringing his own copyright.

    Kneejerk indeed.

    This reminds me of the MST3k problem. MST3k showed alot of movies that never made money and never would’ve if MST3k hadn’t bought the license to show them or however it worked. Now you can’t find but a handful of MST3k episodes on video because these ancient movies that no one would ever pay a dime for otherwise are being held by these corporations who have no interest in doing anything with their copyright. And it largely seems to be NBC Universal, though I’m not sure why.

    1. Johan says:

      On the other hand showing a game isn’t really the fun of a video game. I didn’t buy Half-Life to watch someone else play it, but I did buy movies and television shows in order to watch them. The idea that some copyright holders have is the (fairly illogical one) that if any of their content is available for free, that that decreases the value of the content as a whole, if you can watch 10 minutes from every hour long Star Trek episode, you’ll think Star Trek is worth 10 minutes less because you already watched those for free.

      With Video Games on the other hand, none of what you get on Youtube is what they’re actually selling, they’re selling you something to play, Youtube is giving you something to watch.

      1. Bentusi16 says:

        That’s true, and I’ve actually gone out and purchased a game after seeing it on a Let’s Play.

        1. Michael says:

          Which reminds me, I’ve still got Dead Space in my to play pile… >.<

          The scary thing, though, is that video game publishers can file DMCA takedown notices against stuff like this. I can't remember of cases where they have, that weren't trailers, but they could. So this kinda rests on the goodwill of the industry's members.

  7. Amarsir says:

    I don’t think YouTube would be wise to act as judges. If someone’s material is being used, and they say the use isn’t fair, making their own call would be very time consuming for little benefit. It’s not even a pro-corporation thing. If CBS were posting clips from Sonnenberg’s home movies, I’m sure YouTube would be equally willing to take it down.

    What I’m also starting to suspect though, and have less proof over, is that there isn’t actually a person at CBS making the call either. There’s so much volume that I doubt the media producers have people actually watching it. Anyone who’s judgment was trusted enough to make that decision would be too valuable to waste their time that way. So I would bet CBS (Fox, Disney, etc) just submit their library for digital matching, and if the software says X + Y within sufficient tolerance, they issue a Cease & Desist.

    It’s far from ideal, but I have trouble getting worked up over it. Derivative work may have value, but this system allows greater protection to (more important) original work and self-corrects by allowing redress if something is actually worth fighting for.

    1. Deoxy says:

      You’re defaulting the wrong direction – there should only be PROTECTION if the thing being protected is worth fighting for.

    2. Michael says:

      Legally they can’t. Youtube (and other content hosting services) get tied into the Safe Harbor provisions pretty tightly. This is where the takedown notices originate (in the law). Basically it proscribes a kind of behavior from a site, and so long as they abide by that they’re protected from infringement accusations against them. In theory this means Youtube could simply tell a DMCA takedown notice to go screw itself because it is completely baseless, but in practice, no company wants to loose Safe Harbor protections, because if they lost that then they could be sued for any infringing material on their site.

      In the end, it’s a bit like negotiating with a gun to your head. Sure you’re acting within the law, but you have to abide by all of these requests regardless of their validity or risk being shot.

  8. DanMan says:

    Hey, remember that time that the Hollywood writers went on strike? It was because they were fighting the media companies on the worth of their work being posted on the Internet. The media corporations said that the video online was worthless, so the writers shouldn’t be paid for it.

    So if Internet video is so completely worthless, why would they be concerned if someone posted episodes of their shows online?

    There was a Daily Show episode with a joke about this. Sadly, Viacom had it taken off of YouTube.

  9. Roi Danton says:

    Shamus, what do you mean by Blip gives no volume control during the commercials? I just tried it out and you can adjust the volume the same way as you can during the main episode after the commercial. You can also turn it off – that’s what I do all the time.

    1. Shamus says:

      Hmmm. For me, the whole button bar at the bottom just disappears. Same thing happens on livestream.

      Now I’m REALLY curious what causes this. Hmmmmm….

      1. Shamus says:

        Figured it out. Updated the post.

      2. I will say I’ve always been able to turn the volume down during commercials, but it’s really random and obtuse about it. I have to click the volume icon, and the volume bar appears, I then have to click the volume slider button and slide it down. Not too bad right? Except…

        The button on the slider gets ‘glued’ to your mouse upon clicking and doesn’t get unglued until you click the volume icon. This means I’ll click and hold down on the slider button, drag it to the bottom of the slider, and then when I move my mouse out of the way the button will ‘follow’ my mouse and the volume will go back up again.

        It’s reeeeeally buggy, so I’m not surprised you’ve had issues with it.

  10. Oleyo says:

    I bet it was Neelix who reported him to CBS…

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      Wesley always seemed like a snitch to me…

      1. Sara Pickell says:

        Probably because he does snitch in one episode. Made even worse by the fact that it was the episodes aesop…

        1. Stranger says:

          Strange, from what I recall of that episode . . . “The First Duty” . . . the aesop was to take responsibility for your actions and not try to get out of punishment by throwing others to the wolves. At least that’s what I got out of it. Considering the plot involved them trying to do something they knew was against regulations, and failed in a very horrible fashion while doing . . . why exactly was it wrong to stand up and say: “We goofed. We’re sorry, we didn’t intend for anyone to get hurt but they did.”

          When in hell did this spirit of “snitches get stitches” become the honorable and right way of behavior for people? I know my sense of personal integrity is outdated and at odds with the world already but DAMN . . .

          Bear in mind, I’m not going to defend CBS/YouTube’s reactions on this score. I just . . . don’t like the idea in mind that if I were to get shot or run over by someone, nobody would step forward to identify the killer because it would be “wrong”.

  11. Piflik says:

    Reminds me of the GEMA (the German Representative for Musicians) blocking ALL content from ‘their’ artists in germany, including the channels of the msuicians themselves..and only on Youtube, other sites are not affected…thing i, they wanted money from Youtube for every single time one of their clients’ music is played in any video on Youtube…in the long run they are only hurting their clients…if I want to inform myself about some artists, I go to Youtube (or rather Google, resulting in me going to Youtube) and if I can’t hear what I find, I forget about that artist and move on…

  12. F0nz13 says:

    It’s situations like this that really do boggle my mind. I have a very confused view on entertainment right now (I’m trying to work through the confusion slowly, maybe I’ll get some ethical sustenance out of it) and laws like the DMCA seem to make little sense to me in this context.

    The hypocrisy which companies seem to practice is amazing. I’ve seen some tout the phrase ‘all publicity is good publicity’ (such as viral marketing etc.) and yet will fight tooth and claw to make sure that any publicity is of their own doing (for example, suppressing user generated content). It really doesn’t help put themselves into a favourable light especially amongst us young’uns.

    One example I might bring up is a set of videos by snoken about BF2. Titled ‘BF2 mine’. Back when I was a wee bit younger, I came across these videos, found them hilarious, especially the guys use of music. It made me go out and search out the artists straight away. I remembered this video a month or two back, and to my intense disappointment, I found that the sound had all been removed, practically ruining it. It was quite disheartening really.

    The idealist within me wants to take on one of these companies and see whether I could get my rights upheld, but like that’s ever going to happen. It’s times like this that make me feel quite small, and less appreciative of the world around me :(.

    1. silver says:

      In some sense they have to make sure all of it comes from them. While posts above this line have been quite talkative about the DMCA, they leave out the flip side of the law (from an older law, mind you): the one where if you don’t enforce your copyright, you lose it. In effect, it’s better for the company to go after everyone and let fair use be decided in the courts, because otherwise someone might later post their entire movie uncut and then in court prove the copyright hadn’t been enforced by all the previous partial postings.

      1. Joshua says:

        It’s simply not true that if you don’t go after copyright infringement you lose your copyright. That’s a facet of trademark law, which is a different thing entirely. As far as copyright goes, the rights holder is free to go after all, some, or none of the infringing uses without prejudicing any future claims; it has to work that way, because one of the tests is whether there are damages and the law isn’t going to force you to litigate cases where you know that it’s not damaging just to preserve your right to sue where there are. Nothing in the law forces you to sue 10,000 fan-ficcers or let the guy who’s selling counterfeit DVDs get away with it.

        1. silver Harloe says:

          Oh, thank you for the clarification. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are all too mushy in my brain :(

  13. Christopher M says:

    You cannot dam the sea.

    The static entities of the world (corporations, celebrities, people/groups who think they’re important) have run straight into the dynamic entity of the Internet – a teeming mass of individuals working in concert. The static entities wish the dynamic entity to conform to their ways of doing things – measured, paid content outflow controlled by the producer; paid media silence on embarrassing personal secrets; a straightforward one-directional flow of control. It’s a conventional model for a conventional era, an era where the corporation controlled information because the corporation was the only entity which could properly disseminate that information to the end-users. It does not work when facing the Internet – which is in every possible way NOT a series of tubes.

    The main problem here is that the old structures and controllers are trying to cram the Internet into the confines of their old structure by any means necessary, up to and including litigation. It is the story of AM radio vs. FM radio; of handcrafting workers vs. automated machinery. It is akin to the plight of the taxi drivers in a fanciful near-future scenario where personal teleportation devices have been invented, and are making their way into every home in New York.

    Certainly, this new market hurts the old market. Certainly, the taxi driver will feel angry at the new products, and attempt to regain his foothold in the comfortable market he used to hold. “What about me?” he cries. “Do I not have a right to be a taxi driver?”

    But as is so often hard to see from the lee side of the gate, while he has every right to be a taxi driver, he has no right to make people take his taxis. And as long as he tries vainly to force the world to conform to him, rather than vice versa, his fortunes will continue to fall.

    These dinosaurs of the information industry must learn to change, or perish. Information is a consumer-driven market, now more than ever. It has no place for spigot-controlled, pipe-fed, one-ended dissemination processes. You might as well try to direct the flow of ocean water by placing a copper pipe in the middle of the pacific. Any model built around controlling the openings between pools of information will not survive; there are no openings and no pools anymore, simply a worldwide sea.

    1. Klay F. says:

      As grande as your analogy might seem, it falls flat in a few places. Firstly, the Great Firewall of China, which even a monolith such as Google has no choice but to help perpetuate. Secondly, The Protect IP Act.

      Anon may be a bunch of feces-throwing howler monkeys, but they are the only ones with the will to fight regardless of the consequences.

    2. Amarsir says:

      Poetic and truthful, Christopher M. You should write more.

    3. Grampy_Bone says:

      Pretty much this. There has really never been a business which, when threatened by a new technology, has not tried to legislate that technology out of existence.

      What’s really mind boggling here is how anyone can feel that putting up reviews (essentially advertisements) for a decade old show could be a bad thing?!

      I have a feeling this is Corporate Policy at work. I.E. the people who create this policy did so in the earnest desire to protect their company’s bottom line, while the people carrying out their orders and enforcing the policy have no actual part in writing it, and both groups are separated by a large buffer of middle managers and bureaucracy, all of whom don’t really care and just want to make sure they justify their job each day.

  14. Andy_Panthro says:

    “His reviews are protected under fair use laws everywhere in the civilized world. Excerpting an original work for the purposes of parody and review is explicitly protected by copyright law.”

    Unfortunately this is not the case in the UK. Our copyright laws are even worse than yours. Much like our libel laws, and a few others.

    It is still technically illegal in the UK to rip music from a CD (That you own!) onto an MP3 player (that you also own!). Madness.

    We’ve had (yet another) review of the law, since the basis of our copyright laws is something like 200 years old. I doubt anything good will come of it.

    1. CrushU says:

      “It is still technically illegal in the UK to rip music from a CD (That you own!) onto an MP3 player (that you also own!). Madness.”

      Depending on how that’s done in the US, that’s illegal here, too. Mostly because if you circumvent Content-Protection on the CD to do the ripping, you’re guilty of breaking encryption. It’s a small portion of the DMCA, and one of the worst things about it. You can have one completely legal use, working to use it in another completely legal format, yet because you broke a ‘protection’ layer, the use suddenly becomes illegal.

      Library of Congress makes exceptions to this every 4 years iirc, and last one was just last year.

      1. Michael says:

        It’s covered under the interoperability clause, the backup fair use exemption Soylent Dave mentioned, and that CDs aren’t really an encrypted format.

        Interoperability allows you to break a system’s DRM in order enable a piece of software operating on systems it wasn’t designed to… roughly. The assumption is the software is being used legally, so it doesn’t extend to protect piracy.

        This can kinda extend to audio data on a CD, given that most MP3 players don’t double as CD players.

      2. Kayle says:

        There is no content protection on CD. Now, DVD has content protection, CSS, which was horribly broken from the beginning. It was rumored that the engineer who designed it was given a very small gate budget.

    2. Soylent Dave says:

      Sorry, but this explicitly is the case in the UK.

      According to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988:

      The provision for ‘fair dealing’ (fair use) allows for quite a lot of copying without infringement, most notably ‘criticism, review and news reporting’

      That covers parody and reviews.

      You’re also allowed to copy things for ‘private study’ and ‘educational purposes’, and are allowed to copy computer programs in any case (‘a backup copy for personal use’ and ‘it is irrelevant whether or not there exists any term or condition in an agreement which purports to prohibit or restrict the act’ so ner to the EULA).

      And you’re additionally allowed to copy electronic media provided you’re only going to utilise the copy (intended to protect against deterioration of the original; this covers ripping CDs, provided you keep but never play the CD…)

      Libraries, schools and not-for-profits have even more rights.

      In addition, UK Copyright generally expires much sooner than US Copyright (particularly in the case of music and broadcast media).

  15. CrushU says:

    Welcome to the ridiculous world of ‘Intellectual Property’ laws.

    Best thing? The Constitution has a clause that mentions what Congress should make laws for, and it’s for the protection of works related to the arts and sciences… And back then, ‘arts’ was scientific in meaning. It’s been twisted all around to prop up an outdated business model.

    Selling content very rarely works all of the time. Yet that’s what the big media companies are doing. They’ve gotten by with it simply because there were no other options, selling the same person the same content on Vinyl, 8-Track, Cassette, CD, then MP3. The smarter, independent groups have started to make lots of money selling access to the artists. Concerts, signings, panels, conventions. If you want a REALLY good example that you’ve certainly heard of, look at Johnathan Coulton. He’d tried for years to get into the music business via the legacy industries… Didn’t work, so he put his stuff out himself. He now makes $500K a year.

    Could say lots more on the subject, as this gets me particularly angry, but just head to http://www.techdirt.com … They cover lots of issues with technology colliding with outdated laws. Mostly IP-related.

    (Oh, and Fair Use doesn’t exist everywhere. There was a motion recently in the UK to replace their ‘Fair Dealing’ (much more limited) exceptions with a US-style Fair Use system… And ‘decided’ (read: votes were bought) that a Fair Use system would be too dangerous and radical to implement. Despite that it already exists in the US and works just fine.)

    1. Amarsir says:

      In 1853, someone printed [i]Uncle Tom’s Cabin[/i] in German and sold copies without any royalties to the author, Harriet Beecher Stowe. She sued, and the court ruled against her. Her work was in English and this printer sold books in German so the court decided the work was different, and thus, not protected.

      The laws have moved dramatically toward protection, and you can make a fine case that they’ve gone too far. But I don’t believe that early IP interpretations were particularly virtuous either.

      1. Michael says:

        The history of Copyright law enforcement is rather telling. Up until, the late 19th century, American enforcement of copyright laws were really freakin’ shoddy. The argument initially was that it was more important for a country to have: “access to intellectual fruits to facilitate a robust educational system” (yes, I know I just butchered the phrase, sorry).

        So until relatively recently, foreign copyright holders were basically shit out of luck when it came to infringement that occurred in this country. The thing that drove copyright enforcement was the establishment of a solid publishing industry.

        Though, chronologically, it comes on the coattails of the non-enforcement era, there was a rather famous indecent where Hearst swiped War of the Worlds wholesale and reprinted it without authorization in his magazines.

        Link here: http://www.atomic-robo.com/2010/12/22/internet-piracy-of-the-19th-century/

        Basically we see this pattern globally, countries that adhere to copyright enforcement/protection are ones that have a well developed, and economically strong, and export focused, IP industry (or industries), if they don’t, they tend not to enforce other countries copyright claims.

        1. krellen says:

          It’s Disney’s fault.

          And I’m not joking; it seriously is. There’s a reason the extensions of Copyright are often called the “Disney exception”.

          1. Michael says:

            Yeah, that’s kinda a separate issue, but you’re entirely correct. I remember reading something a while back that worked off the assumption that basically everything that hadn’t entered public domain already, never would.

  16. X2-Eliah says:

    The whole IP and advert shebang aside (not really in mood for even thinking about that load of rubbish), the main reason why I dislike blip tv is quite simple – it’s constantly unable to secure a proper streaming speed, so where on youtube or elsewhere I could just load a vid and click play, on blip I’d have to let it pre-stream at slow speeds for some good 65% of the whole duration on pause, and only then click play – otherwise the vid cuts out all the friggin time.

    1. Rosseloh says:

      That’s actually my experience with Viddler (haven’t used blip). I don’t know what they do differently, but they have the slowest streaming around, and they call it “new and improved”! It’s faster to click the download button and watch the video offline than it is to stream from their site, often by an order of magnitude (100 meg video downloading in 2 seconds versus letting it buffer for 2 minutes or more).

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Funny,but Ive never had the video not start after the commercials on blip,but I had the videos bug out plenty of times on youtube.

    As for sf debris,I enjoy it,even though Ive watched only deep space 9 whole,and the rest only sparingly when it was on tv.Too bad youtube screwed him over.Just like how they did with LittleKuriboh.

  18. Henebry says:

    Shamus said, “perpetuate a flamewar.” I vote for “perpetrate.”

    Though if said flamewar gets carried out for several days, at some point perpetuate might be right.

    Edit: Shamus also said, “In truth, I am a bit on edge. I'm out of work and working on the Great American Novel.”

    Just want to make clear that you are a fantastically bright guy with laser-sharp insights. I hope my occasional vocab comments don’t put you off, because I’d be the first to admit that I wish I had anything approaching your output as a writer.

    1. Jarenth says:

      The ‘perpetuate a flamewar’ link leads to a Kirk Vs Picard argument. One could argue that that is, indeed, a flame war that has been going on for at least several days.

  19. Rayen says:

    I’m i the only one bothered by these slanderous statement against voyager? And your going to talk down at Voyager when Enterprise is sitting there just asking for it? And the movie reboot? And you’re coming down against Voyager? Was it great? no. Was it better than most star trek related stuff made since? yes.

    oh yeah and SF debris, youtube, DCMA, fair use, bad stuff.

    1. Raygereio says:

      That’s not really much of a defence now is it? Did Voyager suck? Yes. Did Enterprise also suck? Yes. Does that excuse Voyager’s existance? Hell no!

      Also the word slanderous isn’t really apropriate here is it? It implies both a falsehood and malicious intent. Neither of which is present when saying Voyager sucked. It was objectively bad (because it’s my opinon, you see ^_O) and saying it might ensure future generation don’t make the mistake of watching it.

      1. Shamus says:

        The thing that hurt most about Voyager was that I loved the premise: Rival factions forced to form a crew. Isolated in the Delta quadrant, far from Federation politics. It’s the perfect setup for the continuity-free “alien of the week” plots that ST writers seem to love so much. They could focus on their strengths, and it would make the show easy to pick up at any point. The idea was gold.

        I even loved some of the characters. The Autodoc is one of the best Trek characters, ever. Harry Kim seemed ripe for the “young genius becoming a man” idea that they botched with Wesley. Paris was a good potential hook. I liked Kate Mulgrew’s delivery. And while I hated Neelix as much as anyone, I think putting an eccentric alien on board is a great way to balance the sometimes overly stiff Federation culture.

        But everything failed horribly in the execution. The actual delivery of the premise made Janeway both a jerk and a moron. The plots were rudimentary and somehow STILL managed to botch established lore. The characters were either annoying (Janeway, Neelix, Tuvok) inconsistent (Paris, Tores, Neelix) bland (Chakotay, Neelix, 7 of 9) or one-note jokes. (Kim, Neelix.)

        I weep for the show that Might Have Been.

        1. Rayen says:

          to be fair i often think the simple plots were to make up for the flowchart complex, continuity heavy DS9 on air at the time.

          1. Blake says:

            Yeah I grew up with both on the air, loved Voyager, DS9 was way too complicated (and probably to deep) for a kid like me.
            By my mid teens I was able to go back and start rewatching DS9 and even TNG and enjoy them more, but for the younger audience Voyager was definitely the way to go.

            1. Jarenth says:

              This is probably true. I watched Voyager as a kid (with my family, during and after dinner), and I remember enjoying it quite a bit; but then again, Kid Jarenth had some terrible tastes. Good ones, too, but on average it’s kind of a wash.

        2. ima420r says:

          Who do people rip on Voyager so much? I loved it. Enterprise was interesting and I read all about it on Wikipedia. I have watched some eps of TGN and they don’t seem to hold up well while I enjoyed Voyager so much I watched through all of them again not too long ago. DS9 was a soap opera in space.

          My complaint would be the lack of good video games based on Star Trek. The best one was that point-n-click game like 15 years ago. No one has ever gotten starship battles right yet!

        3. Soylent Dave says:

          Yeah; I quite liked the concept (and gave it far too much of a chance) but there’s only so many times you can watch the 4 possible plots before you give up

          1. Voyager is in trouble and only the holographic doctor can save the day
          2. Voyager has been destroyed / is knackered, but it’s okay because *something to do with time travel*
          3. (added later) Voyager is in trouble and only Seven of Nine can save the day
          4. One of the main characters dies (i.e. Harry Kim) – but don’t worry, we’ve got a spare

        4. Noble Bear says:

          I hated the voyager premise, it smacked too much of Lost in Space: Trek Edition but was willing to give it a shot anyway.

          Janeway didn’t resonate with me and since the network I watched it on ran an episode of Babylon 5 the hour before, the more I watched of Ivonova, the more Janeway irked me. I feel like *almost* any other woman in Trek would have made a better choice.

          The problem with Neelix wasn’t that he was alien or prone to bungling, it was that he was good at ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. He’s not a survival expert, he cant cook for shit, he has repeatedly shown a lack of sensitivity and empathy toward those he ostensibly means to help and he’s has good comments or advice only two of three times in the shows seven year run. NOW, had he actually excelled at even just one of those things, I could have given him a pass and not regarded him as the dead weight he is.

          Sorry, I know thats off topic, I just had to vent a little.

      2. silver says:

        Voyager sucked because it had too much of the Tao of Gilligan.

    2. Shamus says:

      To be fair, I didn’t watch Enterprise, which is why my hate ends at Voyager. (In fact, I think the big reason I missed Enterprise was BECAUSE of Voyager.)

      And the reboot? Eh. I don’t know, which is worse? A big dumb popcorn-eating action movie wearing a Star Trek mask, or a “true” Trek movie that just plain sucks? I suppose I’d rather watch the new Trek than Nemesis. Reasonable people could go either way. I’m sure we’d both rather have a good movie than either of those.

      1. Stranger says:

        Give it 40 years and the 2009 Star Trek movie might be held up as classic. Kind of like the original series, or Star Wars. Or Shakespeare.

        Be honest now, Star Wars is a highly entertaining movie, and it is rather robust . . . but it was also made to entertain. It is a masterpiece, by the term’s original use; it is the point where George Lucas proved he could indeed make movies to entertain. It is not a pinnacle of writing. But I still love the movie, as much as I love watching other movies pretty much designed to get me to fork over $20 for a ticket.

        Was the recent “Star Trek” movie bad? I don’t think it was. Was it a bad “Trek” entry? I don’t know, but it certainly is an interesting and entertaining take on the material. I am interested to see where it goes, before I start heaping the “RUINED FOREVER” criticisms.

        And at the end of the day, I’m always interested in seeing what results from someone picking up a setting, looking at it and offering their own take on it. (I did read DM of the Rings after all!)

        1. Falcon says:

          The original Star Wars trilogy is better than you are giving it credit for. They are well and truly great examples of universe (literally) building. Sure the dialogue was… rough, but I can think of few movies to do so admirably at presenting a wholly new world. I watched it for the first time in years recently picking it apart to see if it was truly as good as I remembered. It was, and it’s place as a classic is well earned.

          1. Soylent Dave says:

            Even Return of the Jedi?

            I tend to think Star Wars is well-remembered because it had some really cool ideas (lightsabres, star destroyers, the Death Star, that noise TIE fighters make), some set pieces that were well executed (lightsabre duelling, the Dambuster’s raid/ assault on the death star, that noise TIE fighters make), and some memorable characters (Vader, Solo, the Emperor, Leia, that noise TIE figh… maybe not).

            But the story is often pretty disjointed (particularly in Jedi, where the film jumps all over the place simply because they want us to get to Endor), and deeply clichéd (it’s just that some of the clichés are executed well (Vader & Tarkin / Emperor interplay) and some aren’t.

            And there’s a metric fuckton of bad dialogue, interspersed with some really nice lines – which we may remember more because they’re shining out of the crap (or maybe they are just really that good).

            It’s definitely enjoyable (but let’s not credit it for coherent universe building; Star Wars is single-handedly responsible for the prevalence of single-biome planets in bad sci-fi today..!)

          2. Stranger says:

            I give Star Wars credit for being vastly entertaining and creating an interesting writing setting which several other people could write compelling and interesting stories in.

            And yet, as a writer myself who has been through lots of creative writing and editor meetings . . . and seen too much SFDebris myself . . . I can’t watch it anymore without picking it apart. It may be a classic on many peoples’ lists of “Best Movies of All Time”, but I still think it’s mixed up with “Most Influential Movies of All Time”.

            And I don’t examine the whole trilogy simply because I don’t want to drag Return of the Jedi into the mix with Empire Strikes Back. The problem with the trilogy as a whole is that it does feel like it set the idea for many other movie trilogies – the first part is stand-alone and doesn’t need more movies to work, but the other two require each other to make the whole story complete. Every time this happens, it feels . . . off. When people writing it insist they had a trilogy in mind from the start, that doesn’t bear out when you look at the movies. For Star Wars, that is very much the feeling – the story was complete at the end of the first film. Even as it left questions to ponder, there wasn’t much need for two more movies. (Let alone five.)

            1. Adam says:

              Y’know, I’m not so sure STAR WARS was a trilogy only retroactively; I tend to at least believe Lucas had another movie or two in mind, if not the five to nine he says he did.

              Notice how unsatisfying Darth Vader’s dispatching in ANH is. We get this awesome lightsaber duel which Vader wins, and surely, by all storytelling law, we must now see Luke at the end wield the lightsaber himself and somehow beat Vader, right?

              But no: Luke doesn’t avenge his master unless you consider Luke’s foiling Tarkin’s plan a form of comeuppance, and Darth Vader is simply blown out of space from behind by Han Solo. It doesn’t really deliver, does it?

              And consider also the romance, which never actually gets going. I realize there doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be one – it can certainly be enough that the characters have little crushes on the princess – but I do think it circumstantially adds to the case.

          3. Sumanai says:

            Too bad I can’t watch it (Star Wars, original trilogy), since the edits are annoying.
            So it’s one case of “Ruined FOREVER” for me.

        2. Simon Buchan says:

          Star Wars is not generally great *writing* (although there are exceptions!), but it is truely great *movie making*: the character arcs, the pacing and photography are all top notch. “Star Trek” is not terrible, but it is confused, ugly, and the characters are fairly flat and their arcs are unearned. In twenty years, people will no more fondly remember it than “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. But given the choice, I would *far* rather watch it over complete shitshows like Nemisis!

      2. Wayoffbase says:

        My wife liked Voyager, I thought Enterprise was better. For some reason, I think both shows would benefit if they had swapped the captains around, but I don’t know. I did notice there were a couple of times where the two shows used almost the exact same script with the names switched around, which has got to be one of the laziest things I’ve ever seen when it comes to writing.

        I’ve always thought on of the biggest flaws in the Star Trek franchise is the technological inconsistencies, which were really severe in the 2009 movie. They spend half of every other episode having to explain some new magical particle radiation the prevents the transporters from working, or whatever. Since it happened earlier in the timeline, Enterprise was in a position to avoid this issue. The theme song definitely sucked though.

        1. Simon Buchan says:

          I actually kinda like that song… though I would much prefer the goddamn *chills* I get when I hear any of the orchestral themes.

          Re: reusing scripts – Star Trek has done this a lot, even TNG reshot TOS episodes near scene-for-scene. Enterprise seemed to be the worst off, though.

  20. Raygereio says:

    BBC made a similar claim about his Dr. Who shows.

    Small correction; that was about Red Dwarf.

    Which coincidentaly was the weirdest thing. Those reviews were nothing but positive. Why would you complain about that?! I can understand CBS not liking his Star Trek reviews as they aren’t exactly positive overall. He gives praise where it is due, but there is a lot of shit in ST and he will point it out. That and he did poke a fair bit of fun at multiple occasions at the ridiculous price of the DVD sets (which is, as far as I know, the only income the ST franchise currently provides).

    The way copyright is being fiercly guarded these days has just gone beyond any form of rational logic.

    1. Rayen says:

      To the people running these companies, who are old, computers are still new and scary things. Who know what we nerds may do with them? I think in the eyes of some we’re all pirates out to make free illegal copies of everything so they don’t make money. i wouldn’t be surprised if they thought we could download all the videos off of youtube. So they jump at any of their copyrighted material lest we peons see it without paying our quarter.

      1. Simon Buchan says:

        “they thought we could download all the videos off of youtube” – uhh… (*looks around, leans in*) psst… you can.

  21. Mad Flavius says:

    (short version: YouTube’s actions are not a “position,” but are legally-mandated by the DMCA.)

    While I wholeheartedly agree with you, Shamus, I echo what other readers have said in previous comments regarding the DMCA, and I urge you to pity, rather than loathe, the actions of YouTube. I am a student of the law, and one of my professors recently co-authored an amici curiae brief in the case Viacom v. YouTube, which has far-reaching implications for the entirety of the internet. This is officially how the DMCA works now:

    1) User uploads content to YouTube. Due to the large volume of uploads per day, YouTube couldn’t possibly ensure that each upload properly adhered to copyright law–and it isn’t their job to do so anyway, according to (American) copyright law.
    2) If Viacom et al think that content is being posted without permission or violating their copyrights, they send notice to YouTube, detailing the URL of the video and requesting that it be taken down.
    3) YouTube has no choice. They must take it down or be found liable for the infringement. However, this next step is the one that many commenters don’t seem to realize:
    4) The user can, and has a right to, respond to this allegation, and YouTube must put the video back up again. YouTube has no control over their own actions (if they wish to remain immune from civil liability), they must merely adhere to the demands of both parties.
    5) Once the video has been returned to its original position, if Viacom et al believe that it is truly a violation of copyright, they then can launch litigation, but not at YouTube, only at the original user.

    This system, while not perfect, works fairly well in general. In the American system, we believe that the individual responsible to ensure that their copyrights remain inviolate is the copyright holder, not some third-party content distributor. Because we have an adversarial legal system, if a party feels that another’s action caused damages, they can sue; if not, nothing happens. Viacom in particular, but other companies as well, realize that many people fold when given the original take-down notice, and so they spew them out with reckless abandon. In fact, my professor in the brief for the case mentioned with deep sarcasm that Viacom’s legal department forced YouTube to take down thousands of movies–clips which, to their embarrassment, Viacom’s own marketing department had uploaded. And then, to add insult to injury, YouTube’s automatic account suspension program locked Viacom’s marketing executives out of their account for several days, until their sheepish messages were read.

    Someone like Sonnenburg, who clearly falls under the Fair Use protections, simply needs to write to YouTube, inform them that the takedown was in error, and YouTube by law must re-link the files, or open themselves to liability from Sonnenburg.

    Now the most frightening thing I can see is if Viacom wins the case Viacom v. YouTube, to which I alluded above. Viacom’s legal team is arguing that YouTube, not Viacom, must be made responsible for finding copyright infringers. The simple result of a decision in their favor would be a chilling effect on all content creation across the internet. No content host would rationally remain in business, because any infringing content uploaded by any user would open the content host up to litigation. This would be a disaster for the free spread of ideas, but thankfully, it looks like the judges realize this and will (*fingers crossed*) uphold the lower court decision in favor of YouTube.

    1. Klay F. says:

      One again, proof that knowledge of one’s rights is one’s greatest weapon against bullshit corporations.

      Reminds me of the guy in Philly who began foreclosure on his own bank when they gave him the strong-arm just because he knew a little loophole in the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

  22. Anon says:

    I don’t know anything about U.S copyright law, but wouldn’t it be possible for someone to set up a video hosting service in somewhere like Iceland, free from heavy handed U.S policies?

    1. Klay F. says:

      What exactly would that accomplish?

      Every country on Earth that is interested in protecting its IP would still be able to block traffic.

      That’s just assuming a country like Iceland wouldn’t cave to American (corporate or political) pressure immediately.

  23. lazlo says:

    The thing that I don’t get is this… CBS has a youtube channel. They’re being asshats by making bogus claims of infringement about YouTube videos. Apparently, they suffer no ill effects from the bogus claims they make.

    So, how on God’s green earth does a single video of theirs last more than 5 minutes on YouTube before being hit by a bazillion bogus takedown notices generated by everyone who thinks they’re being asshats?

    I mean, I just went over to http://www.youtube.com/user/cbsnewsonline#p/a and I’m pretty sure one of the stickers on that laptop looks a whole lot like something I drew once.

    On the one hand, I’m sure that they wouldn’t have pushed the DMCA through if it really did mean that any three random Internet users could effectively take them offline forever with no consequences. But I’m equally certain that they wouldn’t have allowed it to pass with provisions that would potentially cause them harm when they make bogus claims of infringement. (I mean, they’re sending out tons of these things, many of which I’m certain are intentionally bogus, but even if in some bizarro world they actually had upstanding intentions, *some* fraction would be bogus due to human error)

    So how did they manage to get the law worded? It’s illegal to make bogus claims *unless* your name has three letters?

    1. Rob Maguire says:

      A takedown notice requires you (under threat of perjury) declare you are a representative of the copyright owner, as well as provide contact info for yourself. The example you gave is more on the trolling side of activism, and the majority of trolls rely entirely on anonymity – especially when committing a felony!

      For your other questions, it’s – as mentioned – a felony to impersonate a copyright owner, but far less risky to file false takedown notices if you do represent said owner. Filing false notices has a penalty (subsection f) of having to pay for lost profits and legal fees the noticee received. Small change for a major corporation, especially since the vast majority of targets won’t file a counter-notice, let alone take it to court.

  24. David Romerstein says:

    So, YouTube’s Terms of Service are a useful thing to look at, specifically section 8B, about responding to DMCA complaints.

    Counter-Notice. If you believe that your Content that was removed (or to which access was disabled) is not infringing, or that you have the authorization from the copyright owner, the copyright owner’s agent, or pursuant to the law, to post and use the material in your Content, you may send a counter-notice containing the following information to the Copyright Agent:

    Your physical or electronic signature;
    Identification of the Content that has been removed or to which access has been disabled and the location at which the Content appeared before it was removed or disabled;
    A statement that you have a good faith belief that the Content was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or a misidentification of the Content; and
    Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address, a statement that you consent to the jurisdiction of the federal court in San Francisco, California, and a statement that you will accept service of process from the person who provided notification of the alleged infringement.

    If a counter-notice is received by the Copyright Agent, YouTube may send a copy of the counter-notice to the original complaining party informing that person that it may replace the removed Content or cease disabling it in 10 business days. Unless the copyright owner files an action seeking a court order against the Content provider, member or user, the removed Content may be replaced, or access to it restored, in 10 to 14 business days or more after receipt of the counter-notice, at YouTube’s sole discretion.

  25. Shamus: A problem is that Sam Witwicky was in the original cartoon too. Called “Spike”, but same character.

    1. Shamus says:

      And nobody remembers him, either. :)

  26. Will says:

    Hey Shamus: Adblock Plus, the Firefox plugin, kills the blip.tv ads dead in the water if you are interested. It kills livestream and justin.tv ads too. I actually never knew that those sites even had adverts until i was watching a stream where the streamer used the /advertisement command and everyone started complaining about the ad while i saw nothing :D

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      Why does everyone use Adblock Plus/No-script/Flash Blockers?

      The first tries to kill the advertising model by which most sites generate revenue (And therefore keep their sites from requiring memberships – IIRC, The Escapist even allows you to pay membership to get around the ads if you so wish because of this), the second ruins any chance of getting javascript interactions to work properly, and Flash Blocker removes the one consistent internet delivery standard across OS, Hardware, and Browser combinations (HTML, XHTML and CSS are close, but they break down when you try to do even mildly complex formats – Flash? You can do whatever you want, it will ALWAYS look the same – Mac’s/Linux tend to get slowdown, and Flash burns down the batteries on Laptops/Mobiles, but the first is an OS-level issue from a development standpoint (In that Flash requires APIs they don’t get), and the second’s a battery-life problem.


      1. Will says:

        I use Adblock Plus because the vast majority of advertisements are obnoxious bullshit.

        I started using it to kill popups iirc, i also use it because exactly the problem Shamus mentions in this article; adverts on videos that are about ten times louder than the video you’re trying to watch. After having my ears blown in for the fifth time in an hour i decided enough was enough.

        I’ll remove my Adblock Plus when the sites i go to stop bombarding me with obnoxious adverts.

      2. Klay F. says:

        Reason for AdBlock: Ads (at least on videos) are annoying as all hell, the internet isn’t television and should NEVER EVER be treated as such.

        No-script: JavaScript is a horrible, horrible mess literally brimming with security vulnerabilities. As an added deduction, to borrow a phrase from Yahtzee, its about as subtle as a clown with his cock out. That it survived (with God knows how many attempts to kill it off)this long for no other reason than because it was one of the first only serves as a testament to the amount of hate it (rightfully) receives.

        Flash: Is maintained by Adobe so is by default one of the most vulnerable pieces of software in existence. Add to that the fact that compared to regular web-browsing it usability ranks around negative ninety-two on a zero to ten scale.

        Unfortunately most or all of my arguments are moot, as long as these things aren’t mugging people at gunpoint, ignorant people aren’t going to care, and thus these shitty aspects of the current internet will keep perpetuating themselves.

        1. Will says:

          I don’t really have a problem with flash or javascript; any sites which are obnoxious in those areas i probably don’t want to go to anyway. It’s just those damn forced ads that get on my nerves.

      3. Sumanai says:

        To give a short answers (in order):

        Because many ads are obnoxious, javascript is a security hole and flash ads or sites are the most obnoxious of ads and sites.

        The problem is the serving end, and are solved (in order) by using less obnoxious ads, running scripts serverside (php, python or perl) and not deluding oneself into thinking that making a Flash site is anything more than an ego trip for either the maker or the marketing team.

        PS. people can bypass the blockers when they have decided that the website in question actually needs/deserves to have extra crap running on their computers.


      4. Stranger says:

        The only Mac which slows down is my Power PC MacMini; my Intel MacMini works rather well with Flash; then again it runs on WinXP. I was told it had to do with the CPU structure, rather than the OS.

  27. Mike S says:

    I remember my days of working for a cable company. Standard routine was any time there was a DMCA complaint (not subpoena, complaint), immediately send a warning to the customer. Customer receives x number of warnings, cable service suspended. Customer can always try disputing the warning, but the entire idea of guilty until proven innocent with these… yeah.

  28. Kaeltik says:

    You had to link DM of the Rings. Well, there goes my night.

    Heh heh… Uncertainty Lich.

    1. Jarenth says:

      Lucky you. I’m at work.

      But then again, I didn’t really need to be productive today, anyway.

      1. Sumanai says:

        Do you ever need to be productive at work?

  29. Daimbert says:

    I actually really liked his text reviews, better than the video ones, so he can always go back to doing that and avoid the issues …

    (I think I’m starting to sound like an old man pining for the way things were back in my day [grin]).

  30. (LK) says:

    You can counterclaim and this usually results in the video being put back up. Youtube makes the counterclaim process onerous, though, and once you counterclaim the plaintiff in the situation then has the option challenging you in court. This usually never happens, but if one of these companies decides to take a genuine interest forcing a parody artist to defend their fair use it could be a pain in the neck. By the purest letter of the law, the fair use artist would a- be found in the right and b- have all of their damages paid for by fines imposed on the plaintiff for a claim made in bad faith. In the real world this doesn’t happen so much.

    I had to file a number of DMCA counterclaims after that one debacle where Viacom claimed to own the copyright to every video on the fucking internet. It was slow and frustrating but every one of my videos was restored without objection within 2 weeks of my counterclaim.

  31. xXDarkWolfXx says:

    In my mind lots of videos these days are taking the form of uncertainty lichs. By that i mean they exist in a state of both taken down for copyright infringement and still up.
    Iv seen far too many times go to a bands official channel only to see that its been taken down for “copyright infringement” by the company that produces them Warner Music Group is the worst for that type of thing.

  32. JediBear says:

    CBS’s claim is fraudulent, as a matter of law, and as such is a criminal offense. Further, it’s part of a wider, and clearly deliberate pattern of such criminal behavior.

    Someone needs to get a US Prosecutor involved.

  33. Duhad says:

    Well for what its worth it seems like SF Derbies is still going strong, dispute the move. Plus your essay lead me, a few months back, to cheek out his stuff and bring in a number of new viewers from my friend circles and theirs in turn. So some times things turn out OK for the little guy in the end…

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