Robots run amok

Interesting story of the life webcast of the Hugo Awards being blocked by copyright enforcement bots. Short version: the live webcast included clips of the television episodes up for best script (as award ceremonies do) and UStream’s bots for detecting copyrighted work spotted it and blocked the entire rest of the broadcast. The article points out that not only is that fair use but, the clips were provided by the copyright holders who were happy the content was being promoted as award winning.

The whole thing is reminiscent of NASA’s footage of the Curiosity landing being removed from NASA’s YouTube channel under the claim that it violated Scripps News Service’s copyright on the material. The problem being that Scripps uploaded NASA’s video to their own stream and, accidentally they say, marked it as being their own content. It ought to jump out at you that, whether Scripps made an honest mistake here or not, there’s plenty of potential for someone to fraudulently claim ownership of content and harass the legitimate owner or reap profits from the content with so little evidence required. Figuring out that a live feed of a NASA rover and the NASA control room during a highly publicized NASA mission actually does belong to NASA has to be one of the easier cases to get right…

The common thread being the automatic disabling or removal of content without solid evidence that infringement is happening or, clearly, human review. It also sounds like, from the Hugo Awards case, there isn’t anybody standing by on call to reverse these actions if errors are made. Add this to the list of things to worry about with both digital intellectual property management and what happens when you start moving to the cloud.

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