Thursday, February 12, 2009

Viacom's Fricklas on web video and 'wide berths'

Ad Age has posted an interesting video excerpt of a talk by Viacom Executive Vice President and General Counsel Mike Fricklas on his company's policies and practices in policing web video sites for infringing material. Fricklas discusses the use of automated filters, and the human review necessary to determine whether certain uses are fair. He also makes clear that Viacom gives a "wide berth" to -- i.e., tolerates -- various forms of noncommercial mashups, remixes, etc., that incorporate Viacom's content. Fricklas doesn't concede that all such uses are fair, but is explicit that Viacom has no interest in removing such fan-posted videos. And his position should come as no surprise; Viacom expressed similar sentiments in an exchange of letters with EFF in April 2007.

Fricklas' comments in the Ad Age video provide another useful reminder that, although the occasional high-profile web video dust-ups get all the attention, the fact is that major copyright holders send takedown notices on vast numbers of clearly infringing videos-- with very little attention at all. And they have little interest in snuffing out the ability to make truly creative, noncommercial use of their works on web video sites.

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