Good column from Walter Mossberg on the need for Congress to update copyright law:
Most honest people wouldn’t consider it piracy to buy a CD, copy it to a computer and email one of the song files to a spouse or friend. But the record industry, backed by the laws it essentially wrote, does. Most honest people wouldn’t think that uploading to YouTube a two-minute TV clip, which they paid their cable company to receive, is piracy. But Viacom, backed by the laws its industry essentially wrote, is demanding that Google remove all such clips.
To be fair, Viacom, unlike the misguided record labels, isn’t suing the actual consumers who posted these clips. It’s suing Google because it claims Google is making money from them and refusing to pay for that privilege.
Google isn’t blameless here, either. It does make money, at least indirectly, from other companies’ copyright material, for which it didn’t pay, even though it has negotiated some paid deals and says it is willing to negotiate others. And while Google says it diligently removes all copyright clips for which it hasn’t secured paid rights, every YouTube visitor knows that this system is, at best, imperfect.