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Old February 5th, 2010, 07:54 PM   #1
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Why do publishers let people put school plays on YouTube?

I've produced a number "Cast and Crew" videos for a local school's annual play. It's always done as an authorized recording under a specific Cast and Crew license purchased by the school from Disney or R&H and it grants specific rights. It always prohibits the video from being put on the Internet.

This year, R&H won't even offer that license for Once Upon a Mattress. Yet, there are plenty of YouTube clips of school productions of that play and many others that have been there for years. Some are obvious multi-camera high grade productions done by the school or production company. I asked one such YouTuber how they got a license to put it on YouTube and they said they saw other schools doing it so figured it was ok.

So if R&H is so strict as to not offer cast and crew licensing for a given play, what is their strategy in allowing people to publish recordings on YouTube? Does it affect their rights?
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Old February 5th, 2010, 08:57 PM   #2
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Is the licence still available for any other production that the school could possibly do?

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Old February 5th, 2010, 09:07 PM   #3
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There is no strategy, and they are not "allowing" anything. They just don't have the resources to police the web daily. And they probably realize the futility of suing their customers.

Last time I was on the R&H website their policy seemed to be, "no video, ever, under any circumstances." Perhaps that has changed for certain shows. But Internet is almost always prohibited no matter who you deal with.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 07:26 AM   #4
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Andrew,
There's various things that go into the decision about what play is chosen. This is the first that a license is not even available so that may go into the criteria for next year. I know R&H was bought out last year and that may be why the video license isn't offered anymore.

Adam,
It's not like these things are popping up daily. Many have been around for years. Also, suing customers is different from removing from YouTube. If they aren't doing anything about those publishing unauthorized recordings, what could possibly be the benefit of turning off a revenue stream from authorized ones? Come to think of it, they are aggravating their paying customers by not offering the license and rubbing their face in it by not enforcing their own policy against those who pay nothing.

Last edited by Les Wilson; February 6th, 2010 at 07:30 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old February 6th, 2010, 07:32 AM   #5
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YouTube is a copyright infringement cluster-F that is full of videos which abuse the rights of the original copyright holder. In fact doing a search there I found 90 TV commercials where the use of my voice was only licensed for TV broadcast use in a particular market for a particular amount of time. Now I have to contact YouTube on each instance to get the audio portion removed.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 07:40 AM   #6
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This just highlights how times & technology have changed to such an extent that publishers couldn't even imagine what people would want or be able to do in terms of recording. They just haven't caught up with the fact that every single member of the audience of a production could be making their own HD recording on a $200 camcorder then uploading that recording to YouTube.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 12:40 PM   #7
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Les, I understand what you're saying and I agree with your points, but I never said that any of this makes any sense. I think all of us imagine a famous organization like R&H being a huge outfit in a gleaming office tower with hordes of lawyers and such, but the reality is more likely that it's a couple of really old guys in a crappy underlit cubicle in a tattered low-rent office building in a shady part of NYC, with piles of files on their desks, and any PCs, if they have them, running DOS. They're stuck in 1980s technology and philosophy and don't have a clue as to how beneficial it could be to license proper video rights. As for YouTube, I doubt they've even heard of it.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 01:55 PM   #8
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It's not like these things are popping up daily. Many have been around for years. Also, suing customers is different from removing from YouTube.
Adam is correct. They simply don't have the resources (money, time, personnel, expertise) to police the web. Like 90% of businesses, they would not have a clue how to get a video removed from YouTube, even if they knew it was there.

According to YouTube, almost 30,000 hours of video is uploaded every day. Can you imagine trying to keep tabs on that without an automated method of doing it?

Just as locks are to keep honest people out, so terms and licenses are to keep honest people abiding by the publishers wishes.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 02:13 PM   #9
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It's highly unlikely that any IP holding company consists of troglodite/luddite types living an a cave...

Even if that were the case, they would have lawyers in a fancy building most likely, working on "creative" ways to "protect" IP interests (AKA run up a huge bill at $250/hr.).

The challenge is that they ARE aware of the mess that the digital revolution has created, pretty much like a deer in the headlights is aware "something" is happening...

The problem is technology has leapfrogged past the traditional boundaries - where the cost and time required to "create" (or more importantly create a perfect or at least usable copy of) a book/play/commercial/TV show/movie was prohibitive. Now every kid with a cell phone, iPod or similar and access to a computer has ZERO education in IP rights, and a "loaded weapon" which can make passable copies for nest to nothing.

Think about how the "lay of the land" has changed and you'll see how revenue models are being created and destroyed at an unprecedented rate...


When I used to record a cassette copy of the LP I bought, and maybe one for my buddy who paid for half the LP, the "fidelity" sucked, but of course LP's would skip rather badly if you tried to use it in a moving vehicle, so it was "OK"... and people passed around bootleg cassettes... can you even BUY a cassette recorder or player anymore??

Along came CD/DVD - plays most anywhere, and at the beginning expensive to create/copy, but now it could be done with a PERFECT copy... a few years pass and the cost to burn an original of copy becomes more than affordable... downright cheap.

FF to NOW, and practically evey portable device has playback for multiple digital formats for audio and video, HD cameras are coming down...

I'm sure you can already buy a cell phone with full HD/high res photos and audio recording that might not have every bell/whistle/adjustment on it, but would shoot video that would beat an SD camera from just a few years ago.

Technology changes things - some for better or some for worse... IP holders will figure this out, perhaps instead of selling X copies and making more per copy, they should in theory be able to sell XXXX copies, or "license" XXXXX copies, and create a "new" revenue stream, hopefully greater than the original one... or not.

There are a LOT of professions/business models going to DISAPPEAR if they haven't already, and new ones will be created. IP will always exist, ways to create a revenue stream from IP "should" continue to exist, but it won't look the same as it did 50 years ago, 20 years ago, or probably even last week...

I just saw a news story about how YouTube is going on a hiring binge (in a horrible economy), so "something" is working there... maybe next week a new startup will pop up and put them out of business a few years from now... welcome to the age of technology.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 02:37 PM   #10
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Adam is correct. They simply don't have the resources (money, time, personnel, expertise) to police the web. Like 90% of businesses, they would not have a clue how to get a video removed from YouTube, even if they knew it was there.

According to YouTube, almost 30,000 hours of video is uploaded every day. Can you imagine trying to keep tabs on that without an automated method of doing it?

Just as locks are to keep honest people out, so terms and licenses are to keep honest people abiding by the publishers wishes.
There ARE automated methods of doing so, far more sophisticated than the average person realizes. Perhaps a great business model would be to have a couple code monkeys create the necessary programs, and draw up some agreements where an IP holder can farm out tracking/enforcement for a fee... I'd frankly be shocked it YouToob wasn't doing this or at least working on it right now.

1's and 0's leave a trail, messy little buggers that they are! Having dealt with another site that had trouble with scammers, I can tell you that there are ways to spot, track, and eliminate the "troublemakers" fairly quickly and efficiently.

Part of the problem is that people buy a CD/DVD/cable feed/internet access and have the nerve to think they "own" it (tongue slightly in cheek) and can do whatever they want with it... they don't understand the 1's and 0's are actually "on loan" for very limited and specific uses. People understand "buy", and "own", but "license"?!? Will take a lot of edumacatin' to get that concept across.

Some IP holders believe those uses should be so severely limited that EVERY use should accrue a charge that comes back to them, or invoke a severe penalty. Yet the practical value of IP changes (one would argue diminishes) every day as more and more uniquely configured 1's and 0's are uploaded, media shifted, copied, parrotted, emulated, reinterpreted, etc...

Perhaps somewhere in the middle lies a GREAT new business model, where each use channels a micropayment back through "the system", small enough that the user is happy, AND the IP creator is too... or not...

Of course the "unique-ness" of a given concept/sound/visual will also be called into question, further compounding the problem!
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Old February 6th, 2010, 07:57 PM   #11
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There ARE automated methods of doing so, far more sophisticated than the average person realizes.
Not for recognizing IP sung by a high school choral group recorded with a built-in camcorder mic halfway across the gymnasium.

You are referring to acoustic fingerprinting, and all current technology relies on identifying a particular master recording, not an infinite number of variations on an arrangement.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 08:26 PM   #12
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.. but the reality is more likely that it's a couple of really old guys in a crappy underlit cubicle in a tattered low-rent office building in a shady part of NYC, with piles of files on their desks, and any PCs, if they have them, running DOS. They're stuck in 1980s technology and philosophy and don't have a clue as to how beneficial it could be to license proper video rights. As for YouTube, I doubt they've even heard of it.
I can see the scene. The DOS computer is cast perfectly. Hysterical.

I did some more looking around and found information on what I had heard:

R&H was sold to ImageM last year for $250M. ImageM is the Music publishing arm of a Netherlands pension investment firm with revenues of $130M a year. According to the PR, "The current management team of the R&H Org, topped by prexy and exec director Theodore S. Chapin, will remain in place." According to rnh.com, Chapin is an industry veteran with a staff of 50.

So maybe Chapin is a figure head while spreadsheet toting bean counters manage numbers on a screen for profit in their pockets not for growth. No investment for growth. Cut progressive activities. Don't invest to protect the brand. Print books and manuscripts. Milk what's on the shelf. Sell it to a lower echelon investment group when the numbers don't add up anymore. I've seen this movie before and the ending stinks.

Last edited by Les Wilson; February 7th, 2010 at 07:39 AM. Reason: clarified I am stating opinion
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Old February 6th, 2010, 08:51 PM   #13
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Not for recognizing IP sung by a high school choral group recorded with a built-in camcorder mic halfway across the gymnasium.

You are referring to acoustic fingerprinting, and all current technology relies on identifying a particular master recording, not an infinite number of variations on an arrangement.
Automation not needed. THere's few of these plays and YouTube tagging makes them easy to find. You find one song in one play and Youtube dishes up a bunch of other users that have posted clips from the same play.

So by not pursing infringers on YouTube, are they saying any value lost is less than the cost of paying a college student minimum wage for a couple hours a month?

To my original question, does not pursuing infringement on the worlds largest video search engine affect their ability to prosecute infringement in the future?
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Old February 6th, 2010, 11:17 PM   #14
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It's easy enough to create algorithms to go snoop around the data streams - one using an acoustic footprint is only ONE way - as Les notes, it's pretty simple to cross check videos and come up with a manageable list of potential infringement...

In theory, the "horse is out of the barn". As a practical matter, a creative attorney could probably come up with some argument and sue a bunch of nice folks who simply didn't know any better and wanted to "share" some happy moments of their lives, thereby tossing any goodwill attached to the IP out the window (think RIAA and where the old like music biz is).

Far better would be a licensing/advertising agreement whereby the IP holder gets free advertising (good for them), and perhaps access or an arrangement for others to purchase their "product", and the otherwise decent copyright infringer is allowed to have reasonable abilities to post without fear of retribution. I suspect YouTube is up to something like this already, but who knows.

We've discussed IP law ad nauseam here (probably the most knowledgeable and intellegent discussions to be found anywhere short of Harvard), and there is no easy answer. The IP holder certainly doesn't "let" or want to "let" their IP be freely posted (no IP freely! DOH!), but there is little or no provision for licensing for "the little guy" or the "small production".

And of course an IP creator MUST have control of their "property", yet if they hold too tight, they lose the opportunity to profit from it (which is thier choice) - tis a sticky wicket. Toss in a bit of greed and larceny, and you've got a decent plot...
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Old February 7th, 2010, 04:57 AM   #15
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Les, I understand what you're saying and I agree with your points, but I never said that any of this makes any sense. I think all of us imagine a famous organization like R&H being a huge outfit in a gleaming office tower with hordes of lawyers and such, but the reality is more likely that it's a couple of really old guys in a crappy underlit cubicle in a tattered low-rent office building in a shady part of NYC, with piles of files on their desks, and any PCs, if they have them, running DOS. They're stuck in 1980s technology and philosophy and don't have a clue as to how beneficial it could be to license proper video rights. As for YouTube, I doubt they've even heard of it.
Please explain how it would beneficial to them to license proper video rights? How does the IP holder generate revenue from allowing the posting on YouTube of a video made of the performance of a play he's licensed? Remember, if it doesn't either generate direct revenue through royalties or increase his sales of licenses, it has no value to him. All he sees is someone else generating a benefit to themselves off of his property without giving him a cut of the action. So how could posting the play on YouTube put signifigant dollars in his pocket?
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