2. Copywrong

Trans Pacific Partnership copywrong

Are you a fan of video reviews or “Let’s Play” videos of videogames on YouTube and other video sharing sites? Do you make “Let’s Play” videos yourself? Well the TPPA may have some nasty surprises in store for you.

Trans Pacific Partnership Oh no you don't
Oh no you don’t!

Parts of the TPPA attempt to extend the way that on-line copyright disputes are handled in the US across the other countries involved in the pact, in particular the takedown process that is part of the US’s Digital Millenium Copyright Act  (DMCA).

The DMCA is supposed to make it easier for copyright holders to remove infringing content from third party sites like YouTube, as quickly as possible to prevent monetary losses. It also allows those sharing sites to operate without getting sued into oblivion every time a user uploads the whole Harry Potter movie. That being said, the DMCA has also seen many abuses.

Some content producers like videos games companies, and in one case The Sunday Times newspaper in the UK, have attempted to use the DMCA to prevent criticism of their own content, under the banner of copyright infringement. While the DMCA really never did apply in the Sunday Times case (they weren’t petitioning a sharing site for the removal of content), video game pundit/critic Jim Sterling (most probably some NSFW content there) has received a fair number of spurious DMCA takedown requests made by game developers that blocked videos portraying their sometime shoddy and downright dishonest games, in a negative light.

Under the DMCA Sterling’s videos were automatically blocked on YouTube for 14 days while he appealed, during which time the developer was free to sell their game, with a little less negative publicity and Sterling couldn’t make any money off the ads that would have accompanied the video. After the 14 days were up the developers didn’t challenge the appeal, as they’d need to go to court, to do that and so Sterling’s videos were reinstated. Unfortunately there are no penalties for the copyright holders for abusing the system like this.

To avoid trouble under the DMCA YouTube also incorporated a content database, called ContentID, that checks any uploaded content against their records to see if it infringes on someone else’s material.  While this works some of the time, lovable, cuddly Nintendo used this system to identify YouTuber’s uploading “Let’s Plays” of their products and took any ad revenue from those videos for themselves. This was a huge issue for those YouTubers who actually make a living from their content. Nintendo have since instituted a revenue share model with creators for “Let’s Play’s” of their products. However, this just shows how these laws, can used to punish the “little guy” by a pushy copyright owner.

Under the TPPA systems like this could be applied to all member countries and other types of sharing systems like Dropbox.