Saturday, February 27, 2010

When New Media Meets Copyright

Menchun Kuo
Professor Lance Strate
Understanding New Media
27 February 2010

When New Media Meets Copyright

New media is a new word for our society. Few years ago, people only know what media is, but now, new media is a tendency. New media changes our life a lot. It is convenient when we can contact our friends or clients by Internet. For example, you can use on-line chatting software to talk to friends or send email to connect with clients. In addition, people can use some websites to present their feelings, thoughts, and life, such as Facebookcy, Myspace or Twitter.

Cyberspace is the main access for people to communicate everyday. People can post anything on the internet; they have their own blogs or pages. They can share anything they want to share. Someone shares his lovely music or pictures on his blog, someone post the articles that he likes on his website. People can do many things on the internet. However, when something is overdevelopment, it won’t be a good thing anymore. People should figure out what the right things are when they did. Also, people have the right to protect their own ideas and productions. That is copyright.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code, 2006) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. (U.S. Copyright Office, 2010) Now, how do people take a balance between new media and copyright is a big issue. It is a conflicting situation. People always want to get information and resources easily, but they do not want to be illegal. That is why there are so many lawsuits about new media and copyright.

Lawsuit cases

1. Google Book Search

As we know, Google is a famous website for search. From 2004, Google started their “Google Book Search” Project. This searching is a latest technology at the time. This searching is also known as Google Print. Google scans and converts the entire text book into its digital database. When relevant keywords typed into the system, it will automatically display the relevant results. When users click into the link and open up an interface, it allows users to view the book and including some advertisement s, publisher’s website and booksellers. Because this tremendous convenience may generate lots of arguments from publishers, Google limited the pages for users to view, prohibited users to print and protected the copy right. Also, Google has the right to allow users access to their system. (Earlham College — Richmond, Indiana, 2005)

This book searching is the first scan all the texts into the Google digital system then link to the original website and allows users to browse part of the documents. However, this is a fair use and very legitimate in the business point of views. Viewers can only view the index but not the entire book. If viewers like it, they have to purchase it or rent it from the library in order to view the entire book. When this software established, many of the internet users’ benefit but the publishers and authors dissatisfied about this software and lead to a lawsuit. (Earlham College — Richmond, Indiana, 2005)

In October 28 2008, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers represented all of the authors and publishers to had a resolutions with Google. This including hundreds of thousands of books that allow the rights for Google to use but Google has to pay one hundred and twenty five millions to establish the Book Right Registry and to pay off the lawsuit. Forty five millions is for the publishers and authors who suffer for the copy rights. Also Google has to spend thirty four millions paying off this lawsuit. (Google, 2010)

2. YouTube V.S. Viacom

YouTube is the most successful and powerful online video supplier in the world. As an influence supplier, YouTube has to handle thousands of video for offering its members to upload, share, and display videos. (YouTube, 2010) And Viacom is a global entertainment content company that has very diverse audiences around the world. Viacom deliver a wide range digital media through television and motion pictures including MTV Networks, BET Networks, Paramount Pictures and Paramount Home Entertainment. (Viacom, 2010)

By early 2007, Viacom had noticed that lots of fans of SpongeBob had been uploading clips and episodes to YouTube. As the fans of SpongeBob were a numerous and evasive bunch, Viacom thought it might be prudent to also engage in negotiations to license SpongeBob to YouTube. Such a license would bring revenue to Viacom, while obviating the unpleasant task of tracking down and prosecuting its base of loyal customers. However, the negotiations broke down, and on March 13, Viacom filed a $1B lawsuit against YouTube for copyright infringement. (Copyright Website, 2010)

Viacom's complaint alleges six counts of copyright infringement, consisting of three types of direct infringement, and three types of indirect infringement.Viacom claims that YouTube itself publicly performs the SpongeBob videos on the YouTube site and other websites. (Copyright Website, 2010)

According to the internet news information, YouTube believes this behavior is not illegal, and YouTube pointed out the reasons that Viacom mentioned are over the law requirements. (YouTube, 2010)

However, the court in Field v Google had no problem finding that users clicking on the ‘Cached’ link did not constitute direct copyright infringement because there was no volitional act on the part of Google at that point in the process. This is the same situation; users clicking on hyperlinks cause the SpongeBob videos to be streamed to their browsers. Consequently, there can be no direct infringement of public performance. (Copyright Website, 2010)

The debate

1.Who is the winner?

From those two cases, we can find out there is no correct winner. No one can announce he is right with the law. There is no happy ending, too. Let’s take a view from Google case. Google not only establish the Book Right Registry to protect the authors and publishers but more significantly is Google innovatively creating a new business model. Nowadays, Google already had close to seven hundred thousand books into their system. In this system, it includes four to five hundred out of print publications. According to the resolution, internet users can read those books which are expired of their copy rights publication. For those books that have the copyright, viewers can only read 20% of the book. The best of all is, those out of print publications can allows any viewers to view. (Google, 2010)

Also, the resolutions framed many agreements. Google can only get 37% of the revenue and 63% revenue will be shared to the publishers and authors. In addition, universities, libraries and other public institutions are allows to purchase these digital books from Google. (Google, 2010)

Although Google just only allow internet users to view part of the books but this makes Google very profitable because it has the advertisements revenue. That is why Google wants to develop Google Book Search project.

However, if Google win it, which means the market will be more competitive and allows competitors such as Yahoo, MSN to emerge. This will drive down the profit margin and become less profitable. From the publishers and authors point of views, they want to keep and protect their rights. They hope they can keep the value of the produces. If everyone can pay less money and download on the Internet, which means it is more possible to share to others people for free.

Even the law, there is a correct way to determine which is right and wrong. The most important thing for people is their benefit. People always support the things which benefit themselves. For Google, the company wants to make money, even it tries to find a way to balance, and it is still useless. Because the authors and the publishers can not feel fair in the same way, and they do not trust this way can benefit them better than the original way.

2.Should we stop people download by the Internet?

Nowadays technology is very popular and very easy for people to violate the copyright, and the worse is, it is very hard to track down who violate the law because these websites may located in other country and it is not a cost effective way to track down who violates the copyright law.

For Google case, because of the easiness of searching information from the internet, books selling are sky rocket. Once the court gives the right for Google to legitimate the search, it will be a disaster for publishers and authors. However, if it is free of charge for Google to put books into the system, those publishers can save the cost and allow many users to know of their products. In the Google point, one hundred thousand books already grant authorization and other hundred thousand is in very long history and is not protected by copyrights thus, it belongs to the public domain. The other five hundred is already out of print publications and lack of business value. Because of Google, these books can regenerate of their life and sell worldwide. (Google, 2010)

So how about change our thinking, Google provides another way to keep our culture. It might is a perfect way, but Google understand new media is a tendency and wants to make good use of it. In the future, it will be a digital world. People read e-books, e-magazines, e-comics, and e-novels. Even we have online courses and use e-text books. We can not stop the quick change of new media. The one thing we have to focus on is how to use those resources legal.

3. Does it happen again?

People all want to stop everything illegal or negative effects for them. However, who can promise it would not happen again? Or people will be afraid of this issue. YouTube is a famous website, it offers the user to upload videos, but the most different characteristic of YouTube is when it gets the video information, the information will be saved into database. YouTube provides a share platform that can allow everyone upload videos and share with others.And other websites like Yahoo and MySpace can share the videos in their own space.

However, YouTube has the lawsuit about copyright, but other the similar websites, like MySpace, TorrentSpy, DailyMotion, and, they all smaller than YouTube, but they do not have lawsuit. Therefore, does it really can stop people share files online?
There are so many websites on the world. Maybe we can stop the biggest and powerful websites to spread videos or music, but how can we stop all cyberspaces? In other sides, People can not download any mp3 or videos on YouTube. If they want to see the video, they have to go to YouTube to see it. Why don’t we just make a good use of YouTube?

There is an excellent example happened few months ago. The CW TV released a model-centric drama --- The Beautiful Life. But this drama was been canceled since this past Wednesday’s episode was seen by just 1 million viewers. However, some of people still want to see this drama, so the producer of this drama --- Ashton Kutcher decided to release the drama on YouTube. If this drama is popular on YouTube, it might be survival or play on television again. Ashton Kutcher expressed, does this drama can survival or not all depends on audiences. People can vote online and show how they like this show. Also, this drama plays on YouTube can keep its high quality to watch. It is a new try and it makes people excited to see what it will be. (, 2010)

This example shows how people change their way when copyright meets new media. New media is a tool that depends on what you use. If we can not stop people share files online, why don’t we jump the tradition model and find a new way to protect our copyright.

4.What is the real value of copyright?

When someone discovers or creates something, and he registers the copyright, then he owns the right. However, what is the real value of copyright? It can protect people who want to steal your ideas or sell those ideas that you might spend all life to create.

But if you do not share your ideas, it is still no use for you and people. Now we can use any kinds of new media as your tool to help yourself. When you share your ideas to more and more people, you will become famous. And most of people will know what your idea is. If they find someone steal your idea, they will help you to accuse him. Also, if your idea is creative or can help people, you should spread it out. An idea can influence other ideas, and then it will make more new ideas.

If we just want to keep our ideas, and do not want to share it. It does not have any meaning. Or if we just want to earn money for keeping ideas, it is selfish and does not have any help. New Media let people have more changes to touch other different sides, it also help our world to be closer and happiness. We can use new media well and create a new world for ourselves.

5.Is law the best way to protect copyright?

When someone does something illegal, the first thing we think is law. Law can punish him and prevent people do something bad. However, law always is the last step when we face problems. If a child steal 1 dollars form his mom, his mom might punish him by many ways, but not go to police office. Why? That is human nature. People always give other second changes when they did something wrong. Otherwise, you bring a child to police office then tell the police the child steal one dollar, the police will do not know how to do.

Now go back to talk law and copyright. New media grows so fast, and the law can not really follow. Moreover, the law is dead, and people are live. We should not rely on law to solve everything. New media is changing, and people can be changing, too. Even we can suit a website for copyright, but there are still a lot of websites in the world. We can not control all cyberspaces. Also, people can find some way to avoid the law.

Because of that, it would be better to corporate the main websites, such as YouTube or Google to create a win-win situation. They pay the money for use the copyright, and tag the authors when they use. People all know what resources from and do not copy it, because if someone copies it, it would be found out easily than before.


Today everything become very easy and convenience, You can use your cell phone to record everything you see and share to everyone, which affect everyone around you.

Regarding to the violation of copyright law, United State in 1998 already established the law-DMCA. Under this law, once the Internet Services Providers get the call from the author about the violation, the ISP needs to immediately isolate all the sensitive information and not allow anyone to get it. Then, ISP will not be reliable for the violation of copyright law. (U.S. Copyright Office, 2010)

If information can be created and benefit people, we should properly distribute. YouTube parade of their platform “your channel”, in this everyone can share their videos with others. And Google provides a simple and easy way for people to search websites. However, this is the most important problem that every author cares. How can we take balance between new media and copyright? Also, it is the most important dispute that new media has to deal with.

New media is a big change and challenge for people. There are many special functions when we use new media, we can chat with different people easily than before by We can have own place to show anything what we like on MySpace. We can follow the person who we like in Twitter, it might be a super star, famous people or your friends. We can find our old friends, keep in touch and follow friends’ life on Facebook.

In the future, there will have more and more special new media be produced, we should realize that we can not just live in traditional way. In the past, people published books, newspapers, magazines, and novels can protect the copyright. However, we have to adjust our mind. If new media can provide a space to share our ideas and we can get benefit from it.

Moreover, people all know this ideas belongs you, it is enough. For example, everyone all knows Thomas Edison was famous for inventing the light bulb. This is a truth and it won’t change.

With the progress of new media, our thoughts should follow the progress. We should pay more attentions about the importance of copyright. We should understand how to respect copyright and make good use of it. When we share music or articles online, we should tag the sources or who the author is.

The only way that we can keep balance between new media and copyright is respect to each other. Copyright not only exist on books, it also could be used on new media. And new media not only spread information fast, it also could preserve our culture easily. People can make a win-win situation, when they have a common consensus. It is a goal that we can reach, but it takes time. Nothing is impossible to the man who will try.


Copyright Website. (2010). Retrieved February 27, 2010, from
< > (2010). Retrieved February 27, 2010, from

Earlham College — Richmond, Indiana. (2005). Retrieved February 27, 2010 from

Google. (2010). Retrieved February 27, 2010 from

GPO Access Home Page. (2010). Retrieved February 27, 2010 from

U. S. Code. (2006). Retrieved February 27, 2010 from

U.S. Copyright Office. (2010). Retrieved February 27, 2010 from

Viacom. (2010). Retrieved February 27, 2010 from
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YouTube. (2010). Retrieved February 27, 2010 from <>


  1. This paper raises a serious question: doesthe notion of copyright still apply in the digital world? Up until now, copyright just dealth with prinyt and "old"media, like movies, still pictures, etc. The new new media were developed without the copyright law being updated to reflect all the latest advances. Does the creator still have the right to profit from his/her work without having the whole world get at it? The largest case at the moment, the one involving Google Books is so complicated that the presiding judge, Judge Chin, has said there is too much to digest, and he has to delay his ruling.
    ( As is many times the case, law follows behind new technology. - Fred Stein Smith

  2. Menchun, your paper had great information regarding Copyrights’. Did not know it was so complicated in cyberspace. I myself felt a little uneasy with putting my paper on the blog. I have never had anything I wrote out in cyberspace. When I read your paper, it made me think of the music industry when the first downloads came out and how the musicians were not getting royalties for their songs. I believe the musicans came out better with the development of ITunes but the record stores went out of business.

  3. Menchun, really interesting paper. You raise a lot of interesting points. The magnitude of cyberspace makes it virtually impossible to track down all of the copyright infringement that happens on a daily basis. The problem just gets worse and worse on a daily basis. When someone can search the internet and download a movie that is still in the theater, I believe that is wrong, it's stealing no matter what spin you try to put on it. The internet was designed for the dissemination of information, but not for theft, no matter how justified the individual may feel in the taking. On the other hand the ability to waive copyright can be a perk to. I have known many people in bands with myspace and facebook pages who have posted their music, with no copyright protection, and managed to get noticed by the public, and in some cases even A&R corps. This will be an interesting development to watch in the future as so many industries are feeling the preassure from online copyright issues.

  4. Interesting take on the whole Google Books aspect. I didn't even know that part of the site existed until VERY recently when a book came up as part of my search when I was working on a paper. I think a site like that can be a very powerful resource with out of print material, but of course it makes you wonder just how relevant said books really can be in the first place. It's also funny that Google is now so powerful that they have basically gone ahead and created that utopian "online library" that people used to talk about - only it's not a library at all but instead a multi-billion dollar corporation doing the work.

    I think YouTube will be an even more interesting case to watch in the long run, as they have been battling copyright issues seemingly forever. Clips and episodes are posted and taken down constantly, and there are seemingly thousands of alternative sites as well. There really doesn't seem like there will be a way to stop this as you said - the technology has grown way too quickly for the law to catch up, and by the time it does, who knows where technology will be? What I think is interesting about this is that if I were to take a clip of SpongeBob that I liked and posted it to YouTube, I wouldn't make any money off it. But YouTube would through advertising. Just a thought there

  5. I believe that Google was not wrong in displaying previews of books in their website. This is a form of advertising for the authors and publishers of these books. There are some books that offer limited previews, others have snippet previews, and others have no previews at all. This shows that authors and publishers have some degree of control over how much of their material can be shown online, so there was no reason for them to file a lawsuit against Google. Also, displaying some portions of books is a good way to attract new customers and is a free service provided by Google. You can compare it to browsing books in a bookstore where you are allowed to scan through the contents of the books. If customers like what they see, they can proceed to the cashier and buy the book. If not, they can simply skip to the next book that captures their interest. The same is true for electronic books that can be found on Google and other sites.
    As for YouTube vs. Viacom, I agree that online filesharing services have become out of control that companies will find it hard to keep a close watch on their products. As you said that there are many other filesharing sites that offer similar services but do not incur lawsuits. It only shows how copyright laws have not yet been standardized. I think that companies like Viacom should just take advantage of this booming media industry and use it to attract more customers in the same way as Google.

  6. Copyright is such a complicated issue, even for old media that today it is hard to wrap your head around it all.

    In terms of video websites like YouTube, the law is different in each country that the host of the website lies in as well- making things even more complicated. I know the UK has very strict rules regarding this, to the point that you cannot even view American websites that have video footage on them of content, such as TV shows, that have yet to be aired in the UK. When I studied abroad,

    I have noticed more and more that sites that are like Hulu, but are illegal in the US, now have domains from other countries. Right now I use a site from Germany to view old episodes of TV shows.

    I'm glad you discussed the case of Google, and I wish I had touched upon them more in my own paper. They are pioneers in the new media realm and are constantly questioning the law, and making people think of the consequences of new media. Their online book library is amazing, in theory, but is it an infringement on copyright? I still don't know what the answer is to that question, whether it is right or wrong.

    -Jessica Vanacore

  7. Menchun,

    I found your paper extremely informative! There was a clear structure in the way you addressed the topic.

    I had no idea about any of the cases mentioned in the essay.

    I feel that the law has to catch up with many contemporary issues, including that of copyrighting. I started using YouTube recently within the last two-three years; I did not agree with the idea of uploading movies (among other material) without the actual compliance of the people involved. I would never imagine having any of my works used by anyone else without being given credit.

    I feel very strongly about this topic and your paper did bring up very specific examples about the issues associated with copyrights.

    I think that the example of out-of-print books being made available is a very interesting and worthwhile endeavor.

    Margaret M. Roidi