November 16, 2006 · Lessig
A bit ago I wrote (here and here) about a difference between true and fake sharing, pointing out that YouTube, rightful darling of the Internet moment, was a fake sharer. I hadn’t realized then just how seriously they took this limit: Read here as TechCrunch describes the notice and takedown they received for some code that allows you to save a YouTube video to your machine.
You might wonder how it could be a problem to save a YouTube video to your machine, when it isn’t a problem to save a television show to your VCR? Welcome to the terror of the Terms of Service world: Whether or not it is a violation of copyright law (which it isn’t, though the lawyers for YouTube seem to assert to the contrary), the view of many is that “fair use” rights can be promised away just as your first born male son can be promised away (wait, except he can’t).
Anyway, without risking more red-baiting, let me simply opine: For a company that was built upon the unauthorized spread of other peoples’ copyrighted work to threaten legal action against someone simply enabling people to save that work to his machine deserves at least special mention in a book by Alan Dershowitz.