Friday, January 23, 2009

HBO backs off YouTube takedowns of inaugural concert footage

HBO has apparently reversed course and will no longer send DMCA takedown notices to YouTube concerning clips of inaugural concert footage over which HBO claimed rights. Reports Broadcasting & Cable:

HBO says that it has stopped asking YouTube to remove the clips, citing the event’s historic nature.

“HBO diligently protects its programming and we are not abandoning our rights to the "We Are One" concert,” said a network statement. “However, we do recognize the historical significance of the event, which is why we attempted to make it available to all by opening the HBO signal and continue to stream the entire concert on In that spirit, we understand why people would want to share their favorite moments of the concert and are not objecting to them doing so.”

According to B&C, "Not only were clips from the HBO [concert] telecast removed, but video clips shot by those in the crowd as well." HBO's actions came under scathing criticism from the Computer & Communications Industry Association, an industry group that includes Google, Microsoft, and Sun, and which often makes common cause with the copyleft. Said CCIA President & CEO Ed Black in a statement:
This is a public event held on public grounds, open to all citizens without restriction. Those sharing their memories on YouTube or other formats should be covered under Fair Use laws. It’s yet another example of the outrageous, excessive attitude of certain big content companies. If we continue to give ground to overreaching requests from the greediest part of the content industry ‘this land’ will belong to them – not you and me.
I suspect that HBO, by issuing the takedowns, was losing more in public goodwill than it was saving in revenue. I can't say I'm surprised that they will now let minor acts of infringement slide.

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