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October 22, 2009 4:53 AM   Subscribe

It's inevitable, so I'll bring it up: the copyright-defying This American Life via Yuoko.com post. Let's talk, shall we?

Yes, we've done this before with stavros' huge post some time ago. Part of the point of the new post is the very interesting debate about 'video on global demand (as the title has it) in the context of copyright and authorial remuneration.

So of course this is worth talking about in the context of Metafilter, too, and in terms of what we feel comfortable with. I guess my own chief motivation for posting this to metatalk was this: I kinda like This American Life, and it just so happens that the DVDs of these episodes are already commercially available. I personally adopt the rule of a torrent site that I frequent; if I like a show, and if it's commercially available, I don't spread it around as I'd like it to continue and I'd like it to see the revenue from whatever good it's done.

So the question: do we like skirting copyright on the front page like this? Do we feel comfortable not only ducking around the law but around helping out our own favorite shows as well? What do we think?
posted by koeselitz to Etiquette/Policy at 4:53 AM (145 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Note: I don't intend this as a call-out. I know twoleftfeet has her/his own reasons for making the post, and since I like the show it is probably in most respects a very good post. Mostly, I just felt bad derailing the thread by being insistent, though I know people will want to talk bout it, and I figure we may as well have any real policy discussion here rather than there.
posted by koeselitz at 4:57 AM on October 22, 2009


I missed your MeTa notice by a hair, so I'll just copy-paste what I said in the original thread:

* * *

After doing some digging through MetaTalk, it looks like the answer [to whether posting copyrighted material is OK] is a solid "yes":

jessamyn: "Our policy is don't link to stuff that might make people come after mathowie. So, we prefer if you don't link to torrents of copyrighted material or blatant copyright violations (full scans of comics or books, more because they're likely to go away than we're afraid of the boogeyman) but linking to stuff other places is not necessarily an issue if you have every reason to think that the material/link will stay up [i.e. isn't some fly-by-night scribd thing]."

Previous discussions:
What is MeFi policy on linking to material that is copyrighted in the US?

jessamyn has invited us to have a discussion about copyright issues in MetaTalk.

Is there a definite rule about not FPPing links to possibly copyrighted material?

So, this FPP linking to a copyrighted movie is ok, but this one discussing how to download music in a place where it's legal to do so is not...

Is there a policy on posting Youtube links to stuff that is (most likely) under copyright?

Not even Calvin and Hobbes is safe!

Lots more
posted by Rhaomi at 4:59 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It feels weaselly.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:00 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well honestly, I'm not sure we're skirting copyrights here. Youku isn't some random server with pirated content - it's a huge Chinese website with millions of users. Most of the time they block major content (movies, TV shows) from U.S. users but they give it away without restriction in China. I have absolutely no idea why This American Life is currently available from them in the U.S.

Quite beyond that, This American Life is a great series which should be seen by as many people as possible, in China, in the U.S., and anywhere else.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:04 AM on October 22, 2009


Wow, youko.com's misappropriation of the iconic chant from the '68 DNC riots for their own slogan is totaliteriffic. I imagine a generation of kids skipping out on some craziness or other happening in Tienanmen Square because the newest episode of True Blood just came online.
posted by felix betachat at 5:08 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


twoleftfeet: Well honestly, I'm not sure we're skirting copyrights here.

Not if you're in China. Many of us aren't.
posted by koeselitz at 5:11 AM on October 22, 2009


Not if you're in China. Many of us aren't.

When I see something on the web I don't usually know where it comes from. The fact that my body is in a particular country simply doesn't apply. How can a simple person like me decide if I am properly allowed to view a particular piece of web content? How can I censor my own curiosity if no one else will?
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:21 AM on October 22, 2009


Quite beyond that, This American Life is a great series which should be seen by as many people as possible, in China, in the U.S., and anywhere else.

Indeed. The MeTa poster's suggestion that if you love TAL you'll limit the listenership to those that can and will pay for it doesn't really make that much sense.
posted by DU at 5:27 AM on October 22, 2009


So we can start linking to Russian warez sites then?
posted by Artw at 5:40 AM on October 22, 2009


How can a simple person like me decide if I am properly allowed to view a particular piece of web content? How can I censor my own curiosity if no one else will?

This is like an argument that says its okay to take all the candy in a bowl set out on Halloween because there isn't someone there to tell you to take just one.

You know what you're doing is wrong, but you're hiding behind an excuse that you don't know any better and won't know any better unless someone points it out. Well in this case, Koeselitz is obliging you by helping to point out how you should be censoring yourself.

It's pretty fairly obvious that a website in a country notorious for copyright violation is not kosher, especially when it seems the only links you were able to find in the United States are sites that require you to pay for the content. You're not an innocent confused or led astray by the vast internet, or I would hope that anyone with the cranial processing power to enjoy TAL wouldn't be so naive. Just admit to an error in judgment and ask the mods to delete your post.

If not, then will you please post me that Russian site where I can download songs for a nickel or so? And the best torrents to download movies?
posted by Atreides at 5:42 AM on October 22, 2009 [17 favorites]


That they usually block Western users is pretty damning. That they slipped up in this case doesn't make it good.
posted by smackfu at 5:47 AM on October 22, 2009


Awwwww shiiiit. This just got real, yo.
posted by Grither at 6:09 AM on October 22, 2009


You know what you're doing is wrong, but you're hiding behind an excuse that you don't know any better and won't know any better unless someone points it out.

I'm not doing anything wrong, you silly person. When you examine the statistics (and these are publicly available) you will see that Youku is a not something that we, in the West, should be censoring ourselves about. Chinese video sharing sites are growing much faster than you might expect. By one calculation, 1 Youku day = 2,385 Earth years. China isn't "wrong", you silly person.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:12 AM on October 22, 2009


I personally adopt the rule of a torrent site that I frequent; if I like a show, and if it's commercially available, I don't spread it around...

So, you frequent torrent sites, but feel a sense of impropriety when other people rip off those copyrighted works that you especially enjoyed?

Maybe I'm reading this wrong.
posted by applemeat at 6:13 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


twoleftfeet: I'm not doing anything wrong, you silly person. When you examine the statistics (and these are publicly available) you will see that Youku is a not something that we, in the West, should be censoring ourselves about. Chinese video sharing sites are growing much faster than you might expect. By one calculation, 1 Youku day = 2,385 Earth years. China isn't "wrong", you silly person.

What do any of thsoe sentences have to do with each other in any way? Really, I'm baffled. It isn't wrong because we shouldn't censor ourselves because it's growing fast?
posted by koeselitz at 6:14 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


applemeat: So, you frequent torrent sites, but feel a sense of impropriety when other people rip off those copyrighted works that you especially enjoyed?

Maybe I'm reading this wrong.


Yes. I frequent a torrent site that refuses to allow works which are commercially available. Only one.
posted by koeselitz at 6:15 AM on October 22, 2009


I'm not doing anything wrong, you silly person. When you examine the statistics (and these are publicly available) you will see that Youku is a not something that we, in the West, should be censoring ourselves about. Chinese video sharing sites are growing much faster than you might expect. By one calculation, 1 Youku day = 2,385 Earth years. China isn't "wrong", you silly person.

So if everyone does it, its okay then? Tell you what, if you can get Ira Glass to tell me that what Youku is doing is just super fine and he encourages his audiences in the US to visit it, I'll happily withdraw all my protests.
posted by Atreides at 6:16 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


If there's one thing that China is consistant on it's that China is never wrong.
posted by Artw at 6:16 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb speaks:

Watching whatever the Internet choses to display on your screen is A-OK. You are not an agent of ASCAP nor have you been deputized by the MPAA.

Meatbomb has spoken.

So it has been spoken, and so it shall be done.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:19 AM on October 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


That they usually block Western users is pretty damning. That they slipped up in this case doesn't make it good.

It ain't a mistake. Youku has content agreements with major providers in the West. That's why most of the recent movies you'd like to see aren't available at Youku for you. Showtime is not unaware of China, even if you are, and could have easily prevented This American Life from showing up for U.S. viewers. But they didn't. Explain that to me before you make assumptions about content availability.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:26 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if you love This American Life, and you want people to see it, that's cool. I can understand the motivation.

I guess the question for me is this: if I asked the originator of the content if they were okay with X, what would they be likely to say?

If you're comfortable that the creator would be good with it, enjoy. If not, either a) don't view the content or b) rationalize why it's okay and view it anyway.

Many, many people choose option b), but that's more of a commentary on human nature than whether it's right.
posted by Pragmatica at 6:37 AM on October 22, 2009


Wow. I clicked through and the files are using pirate scene names like "This.American.Life.S01E02.My.Way.HDTV.XviD".

Why would a flash video site that is "legit" use source files that are XVid?
posted by smackfu at 6:38 AM on October 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm not doing anything wrong, you silly person. When you examine the statistics (and these are publicly available) you will see that Youku is something that we, in the West, should be censoring ourselves about. Chinese video sharing sites are growing much faster than you might expect. By one calculation, 1 Youku day = 2,385 Earth years. China isn't "wrong", you silly person.

FTFY.
posted by zennie at 6:39 AM on October 22, 2009


This is the equivalent of pirating through a hole in a sheet.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:42 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, Yuoko.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:43 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just have to say, one more time, that it isn't for MeFites to determine whether or not the major supplier of online video within China should or should not make available a specific video to Western audiences. I'm a big fan of This American Life and if somehow I believed that I was hurting their revenue stream I would feel plenty bad. But ultimately this issue is determined by some arrangement between Showtime (or rather, its parent entity Viacom) and the major supplier of online video in China.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:45 AM on October 22, 2009


This was a weird post. It purported to be about This American Life, but then as soon as it started getting slightly derailed, twoleftfeet revealed that s/he'd really made the post in order to make a polemical point about Youku and its importance, which was hardly evident from the original post at all. It's almost like the copyright thing was a kind of provocation, so that people's objections would REVEAL!!! the real point of the post.

twoleftfeet, if you feel strongly that Youku is worth a post, why not make a post about Youku?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:47 AM on October 22, 2009


those indicating it's pirated: prove it.
posted by krautland at 6:50 AM on October 22, 2009


those indicating it's pirated: prove it.

The two seasons are posted by two different users.
posted by smackfu at 6:54 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


twoleftfeet: Youku has content agreements with major providers in the West. That's why most of the recent movies you'd like to see aren't available at Youku for you. Showtime is not unaware of China... and could have easily prevented This American Life from showing up for U.S. viewers...

But ultimately this issue is determined by some arrangement between Showtime (or rather, its parent entity Viacom) and the major supplier of online video in China.


Citation, please?

Youku.com does not have any "content agreements with major providers in the West." It has an uneasy "truce" with them based on (a) the fact that it flatly bans Westerners from viewing it and (b) the fact that it would be extremely difficult for Western companies to pursue a Chinese web site through legal channels. There are a few "providers" with which Youku.com has "content agreements." [cite] Those "providers" are principally China Telecom Ltd and Taobao.com. None of them are in the West.
posted by koeselitz at 6:57 AM on October 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


krautland: those indicating it's pirated: prove it.

If anyone can produce any evidence whatsoever that Viacom has ever had anything to do with Youku.com and thinks of them as anything beyond pirates, I'd like to see it. As it is, I've been combing through every authoritative reference to Youku.com I can find anywhere, and it appears that they have no affiliation whatsoever with Showtime, Viacom, or This American Life. Since these shows are already out on DVD, and since Youku.com clearly didn't get them from the source, well...
posted by koeselitz at 6:59 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just have to say, one more time, that it isn't for MeFites to determine whether or not the major supplier of online video within China should or should not make available a specific video to Western audiences.

But it is up to Mefites (or more accurately, the Mods) to decide if Metafilter should be a platform for dissemination / access of said site.
posted by Atreides at 7:02 AM on October 22, 2009


twoleftfeet, if you feel strongly that Youku is worth a post, why not make a post about Youku?

This whole thing about Chinese internet services, especially ones that have a global impact, is interesting. I think we in the West know about Google and Yahoo and Twitter and Facebook and so on... but we're pretty oblivious to the way the internet is developing elsewhere. There's some shock in the realization that things are different elsewhere and that these other places could impact us. Maybe I should have muted this idea more. But I didn't. That's life. That's "This American Life"?
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:04 AM on October 22, 2009


Yes, we've done this before with stavros' huge post some time ago.

Only about 1% of those videos are still up due to copyright claims.
posted by smackfu at 7:12 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


But ultimately this issue is determined by some arrangement between Showtime (or rather, its parent entity Viacom) and the major supplier of online video in China.

The alleged arrangement. You've shown no proof that Youku actually has an arrangement regarding This American Life. Furthermore, you've shown no proof that the arrangement is intended to apply to a global audience and not just those located in China. In fact, Youku explicitly blocks at least some shows on a geographic basis.

For a Western example of this, Hulu has arrangements with content providers to show video online to a US-only audience. This is a form of market segmentation that allows the content providers to tailor their contract terms. I imagine, for example, that Hulu has to pay the content providers more for a given show than Youku does.

those indicating it's pirated: prove it.

As smackfu pointed out, the files are named in a fashion consistent with a pirated copy. If you search the internet for the example file name, you'll see the Youku link at the top, followed by several file sharing sites giving eDonkey links for the original pirated AVI.

Further, although Youku does have arrangements with some content providers, Showtime and Viacom do not appear to be among them.
posted by jedicus at 7:14 AM on October 22, 2009


It's a thorny ethical issue, at least for me. I often find interesting things online that I shy away form posting because they're clearly in violation of copyright, though a few of my posts have been over that line, most recently my post about Pat & Mat. Once a post I made about a YouTube user who uploaded videos of French popular music probably led to the user's account being suspended. Both were YouTube posts. Don't get me wrong, I have various rationalizations for why I think it's okay to link to things on YouTube that aren't completely kosher, but it's something I think about often..

MetaFilter isn't in the business of enforcing copyright for other parties and it shouldn't be. God knows that copyright law as it stands is a hideous mess that only multinational corporations, the descendants of content producers and Cthulhu could love. But it doesn't hurt to think about, when making posts, whether a site being linked to is scraping content off the internet and using it to generate ad revenue. That's shady and in general, I'm against that sort of thing. Down with it, I say, down with that sort of thing.
posted by Kattullus at 7:25 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


: This whole thing about Chinese internet services, especially ones that have a global impact, is interesting. I think we in the West know about Google and Yahoo and Twitter and Facebook and so on... but we're pretty oblivious to the way the internet is developing elsewhere. There's some shock in the realization that things are different elsewhere and that these other places could impact us. Maybe I should have muted this idea more. But I didn't. That's life.

OMG. There are different sites on the Internet for people in non-Western countries who speak different languages and have different cultures and enact different laws?!

You just blew my mind, dude. Thank you so much. My world will never be the same.
posted by zennie at 7:27 AM on October 22, 2009


Globalization cuts both ways, motherfuckers.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:30 AM on October 22, 2009


There are different sites on the Internet for people in non-Western countries who speak different languages and have different cultures and enact different laws?!

Although apparently they still watch Western TV. In English.
posted by smackfu at 7:33 AM on October 22, 2009


I for one, think that our United States content providers "Great Firewall of Copyright" is a great idea and protects us from all kinds of bad ideological influences.
posted by jefeweiss at 7:36 AM on October 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yes. I frequent a torrent site that refuses to allow works which are commercially available. Only one.

And a lot of torrent sites have the same basic policy as YouTube, in that they let anyone upload material but will take down anything that the copyright holders complain about. It's kind of funny that everyone sees YouTube as being legit, even though they probably host more copyright infringing videos than any other site on the Internet.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:37 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


What is it about movies and TV documentaries that actually gets people defending copyright? Many people in this thread are obviously against this kind of piracy, and are making it very clear that they consider it, to one extent or another, immoral. When it comes to similar Mefi discussions about copyright violation in music, in audio recordings, the voices defending copyright and decrying piracy are so few and far between. I genuinely wonder why.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:42 AM on October 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Do you have examples? I don't really recall too many posts that are based on a bedrock of pirated music.
posted by smackfu at 7:48 AM on October 22, 2009


Both the US and China are parties to the TRIPS agreement. There's not really an issue of whether this is flouting international law; absent an agreement (and there doesn't seem to be one), it definitely is. Any failure of Showtime/Viacom to remove the offending material would probably be due to jurisdictional issues, not substantive copyright law. Given this, doesn't it seem pretty damn shady and not very good for MetaFilter?
posted by naju at 7:50 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


flapjax at midnite: "What is it about movies and TV documentaries that actually gets people defending copyright? ... When it comes to similar Mefi discussions about copyright violation in music, in audio recordings, the voices defending copyright and decrying piracy are so few and far between. I genuinely wonder why."

Movies are more expensive to produce. So the copyright infringer is inflicting greater monetary "damages" by not paying for it.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:51 AM on October 22, 2009


I Said: I don't really recall too many posts that are based on a bedrock of pirated music.

Well, I guess on further reflection there are plenty of posts that link to YouTube music videos or videos with copyrighted song soundtracks and no one seems to care even a little bit about the pirate status of those. So yeah. I don't know why people care more about TV shows. Maybe because piracy of those came later, and seems more outlaw.
posted by smackfu at 7:58 AM on October 22, 2009


Joe Beese: Movies are more expensive to produce. So the copyright infringer is inflicting greater monetary "damages" by not paying for it.

I suppose that's true but then you end up in the horrible ethical thicket (ethicket? ethiquette?) of whether it is morally less bad to steal a cheap object than an expensive one and whether it's morally less bad to steal from a rich corporation or a poor individual and that's a discussion that leads nowhere. Well, not so much nowhere as down 3000 years of ethical philosophy and we'll end up with koeselitz posting lengthy excerpts from Aristotle and Nietzche and things will get very exciting and great fun and then about a hundred or so looooooong comments later we'll find that we've completely forgotten to talk about the on topic copyright issues.
posted by Kattullus at 8:03 AM on October 22, 2009


Well, I guess on further reflection there are plenty of posts that link to YouTube music videos or videos with copyrighted song soundtracks and no one seems to care even a little bit about the pirate status of those.

I think the issue is length more than anything else. I would expect a post linking to the entire content of a commercially available album without permission to raise the same concerns as this one.
posted by tomcooke at 8:03 AM on October 22, 2009


For what it's worth, I think a post about Yuoko is fine in principle, and I think that the "hey go grab all of [commercial product x] from this questionable source!" is not good framing for a post.

I've talked to Jessamyn about it a little this morning and on the balance we're both sort of shruggo about the post and okay leaving it up, but more for the optimistic reading of it as "Yuoko is an interesting thing / represents an interesting internet phenomenon" angle than because it's a particularly awesome post as presented.

Certainly it's not a good model for future "hey go grab x" copycat posts, and if that becomes any kind of trend we'll deal with it then.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:08 AM on October 22, 2009


When it comes to similar Mefi discussions about copyright violation in music, in audio recordings, the voices defending copyright and decrying piracy are so few and far between. I genuinely wonder why.

I think there's a clear difference between arguing against copyright and actively helping people circumvent it. People are treating this post more seriously than a post than the posts you are talking about because there are actual links to a site where you can few the full material. That would be more like posting a link to a music torrent site, which I haven't seen happen around here.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:13 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is the equivalent of pirating through a hole in a sheet.
posted by Rhomboid


Oh man. Reminds me of one of my favorite comedy sketches ever, from Exit 57.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:30 AM on October 22, 2009


Kattullus: " you end up in the horrible ethical thicket (ethicket? ethiquette?) of whether it is morally less bad to steal a cheap object than an expensive one and whether it's morally less bad to steal from a rich corporation or a poor individual and that's a discussion that leads nowhere."

True. Though that doesn't seem to discourage anyone.

I think the distinction that cortex just made is the important one. The issue is whether the post is primarily about infringing. In the context of "Listen to this great musician", I've linked to music blog posts that point to entire commercially-available records - and no one seems to have had a problem with it.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:46 AM on October 22, 2009


With regard to This American Life, they suggest that if you can't watch the show on Showtime, then to look to their dvds or iTunes. Youko do seem to be missing from that list.
posted by Atreides at 9:12 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's great how people on this site can find a way to justify anything.

Posting TAL content from Youko is Wrong-With-A-Capital-W.

cortex: For what it's worth, I think a post about Yuoko is fine in principle, and I think that the "hey go grab all of [commercial product x] from this questionable source!" is not good framing for a post.

You've got it backwards- posting links to copyrighted content is wrong in principle, and framing it in the context of "ooh, look at this quickly growing site it came from!" does not make it a good post. The tags of the post are "thisamericanlife" and "youko", in that order. A much better post could have been done on Youko instead of this kind of post hoc justification.

Post needs to go, IMO. It's bad precedent.
posted by mkultra at 9:13 AM on October 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


You know, if This American Life had stuck to its public broadcasting heritage instead of going with a 'fuck you' like Showtime, this wouldn't be an issue.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:20 AM on October 22, 2009


Here's why TAL went with Showtime. That FAQ is full of useful stuff!
posted by Atreides at 9:24 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


flapjax at midnite writes "When it comes to similar Mefi discussions about copyright violation in music, in audio recordings, the voices defending copyright and decrying piracy are so few and far between. I genuinely wonder why."

While I haven't really noticed that much if true it could be because of a perception that anyone can make music while movies and TV require capital structure limited to few. Be interesting to track this going forward as the unstoppable tsunami of digital copyright infringement breaks and people grow up with portable television studios in their hands as well as musical instruments.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 AM on October 22, 2009


Video.google.com searches a lot more video hosting sites than they first did, and you can find a surprising number of full episodes hosted on non-western sites. Yuoko.com is interesting because they do block IPs from the US, while other sites don't seem to care so much. Filter searches by duration, and you've increased your chances of finding a full episode or movie instead of random clips. Here's a comparison chart, though it's missing a lot of the little sites I've run across through Google Videos search.

Stavros' post is not alone in linking a significant amount of copyrighted videos. When I've linked to whole series (twice before), I tried to make the post more than just the videos, but some other posts were only about the (illegal) content.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:30 AM on October 22, 2009


mkultra writes "posting links to copyrighted content is wrong in principle,"

I don't agree this is wrong in principle any more than posting directions to the local crack house/open drug market is wrong in principle. You've bought into the copyright holder trade organizations propaganda that giving instructions on how to obtain a product is somehow morally equivalent to obtaining that product.
posted by Mitheral at 9:33 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's the thing about principles. Everyone has their own.
posted by smackfu at 9:40 AM on October 22, 2009


You've bought into the copyright holder trade organizations propaganda that giving instructions on how to obtain a product is somehow morally equivalent to obtaining that product.

Not necessarily morally equivalent, just also wrong. And in the context of MetaFilter, where the ostensible point is for the readers to make use of the links, it's difficult to separate the posting of the links from the inevitable, invited, and intended act of perusing the links. What is the point of an FPP with links that readers are not supposed to click?

I would argue that the particular links used are legally and morally troublesome, especially for the predominantly US-based MetaFilter readership. A good post about Yuoko as a site and phenomenon could easily have been based around links to legitimately hosted content, news and blog articles, similar sites like 56.com. Framing it around access to legally questionable content that is legally available to most MetaFilter readers from other sources was a bad way to do it.
posted by jedicus at 9:49 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mitheral: I don't agree this is wrong in principle any more than posting directions to the local crack house/open drug market is wrong in principle.

Actually, I wouldn't be OK with people posting directions to local crack houses either. More importantly, the people who make the crack would probably not be OK with it, either.

Mitheral: You've bought into the copyright holder trade organizations propaganda that giving instructions on how to obtain a product is somehow morally equivalent to obtaining that product.

No one is saying they're morally equivalent, just on the same side of the middle. And, your hysteria aside, it is possible to have an informed opinion different from yours without being a propaganda victim. By the wishes of the content creators, you're not entitled to it on whatever terms you want. Whose interests are you standing up for here, other than your own?
posted by mkultra at 11:28 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want libraries closed because it's possible to take a CD out and copy it. Can't you all see that's morally troublesome?
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't agree this is wrong in principle any more than posting directions to the local crack house/open drug market is wrong in principle. You've bought into the copyright holder trade organizations propaganda that giving instructions on how to obtain a product is somehow morally equivalent to obtaining that product.

This analogy makes my head hurt. If you want to be more correct, it should really be "Wow, Toyota makes some really fine automobiles. And Toyota of Middletown, USA, leaves their storage lot unlocked." You really are trying to say that's ethically equivalent to saying "Wow, Toyota makes some fine automobiles, and you can buy one at Toyota of Middletown"?

I'm not saying it should be illegal to posses or pass along such information. But I am saying that the principle is really, really different. Plausible deniability is not equal to ethics.

Look, a creator of a work holds a copyright- it is *theirs*. If they choose to contract with an organization to help them protect that copyright, that is also their business.

In exchange for the legal mechanism of the copyright, the creator of that work is forced to accept that there are various fair uses on that work that they give up. But the work is still theirs. And respecting that right is not the same as "falling for propaganda". Some of these orgs go to far (RIAA), but that does not change the basic rightness or wrongness of their mission. Sort of like saying that it's ok to break speeding laws because some police departments are jerks about enforcement. Or more accurately, publishing information about where speed traps are is ethically different from publishing information about where they aren't.

Since we try to be good people and do the right thing, and keep Metafilter out of trouble, linking to ethically dubious sites really ought to be out of bounds.
posted by gjc at 11:41 AM on October 22, 2009


I pirate stuff all the time, but I don't think Metafilter is the venue for it. If I want to pirate This American Life I'll visit The Pirate Bay. The post should go.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:41 AM on October 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I want libraries closed because it's possible to take a CD out and copy it. Can't you all see that's morally troublesome?

It is, but not really relevant to the discussion.
posted by gjc at 11:43 AM on October 22, 2009


I want libraries closed because it's possible to take a CD out and copy it. Can't you all see that's morally troublesome?

That is a false equivalence. The issue is not with the existence of Yuoko or an FPP about it, nor even with the fact that there is some pirated material on Yuoko. The issue is with an FPP framed entirely around the use of Yuoko to facilitate the illegal viewing of a particular show that is legally available in other ways to most MetaFilter readers.

Consider the earliest days of YouTube. At the time an FPP could have been constructed about YouTube in many appropriate ways: "look at these various homemade videos," "here are bands that have jumped on to YouTube," "what a crazy business model; how will they make this work?," etc. A bad YouTube FPP would have been "look, it turns out you can totally get tons of pirated music, tv shows, and movies off of YouTube! check out all of these links!"

Similarly, one could make an FPP about the growing availability of digital media in libraries and there would be lots of interesting, appropriate angles to the story. An inappropriate angle would be "here's how to make illegal copies of music and DVDs from the library without the library getting suspicious."
posted by jedicus at 11:47 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: I want libraries closed because it's possible to take a CD out and copy it. Can't you all see that's morally troublesome?

Hey dude, thanks for dropping by for a lame trolling.
posted by mkultra at 11:49 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Certainly it's not a good model for future "hey go grab x" copycat posts, and if that becomes any kind of trend we'll deal with it then.

Foolish consistency, hobgoblin, etc., but out of curiosity what distinction (if any) do you see between the post in question here and this one?
posted by asterix at 11:51 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


There hasn't been a post before on the Blue (or really even a mention) about Youku. Perhaps a separate post about Youku as a site and a phenomenon would be a good idea. But I arrived at the post from the other direction. I did a Google Video search for "This American Life" and, to my surprise, found a complete episode as the sixth result. Clicking on Google's link, I found all the other episodes. I thought it was strange and, in a way, kind of funny that the only way to get This American Life online was from China. I had the same trepidation as many of you ("is this legal?") and that's why I added a link about Youku itself.

I really don't know if it's legal or not, though I suspect the former. If Google Video can't make that decision for me and if Viacom hasn't told Youku to remove the video then should I censor the link myself? This question seemed almost as interesting and post-worthy as the video - certainly it has been the direction this discussion has gone - but I don't think a post that just framed the question would have generated as much comment as an in-your-face link to the video.

By the way, This American Life rocks. If you get a chance to watch it, through whatever means, you should.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2009


what distinction (if any) do you see between the post in question here and this one?

Yuoko doesn't have .ru at the end of the address.
posted by smackfu at 11:55 AM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I really don't know if it's legal or not, though I suspect the former. If Google Video can't make that decision for me and if Viacom hasn't told Youku to remove the video then should I censor the link myself?

Google will respond to a DMCA take down request and remove search results that lead to infringing material. Despite this, there are thousands of torrent sites all over the internet that one can find through Google searches because not all of them have been the subject of a take down request. Does that mean it's okay to make FPPs linking to torrent sites as long as we can find them through Google?

At some point posters have to exercise some independent judgment and common sense. The files on Youku are named identically to pirated copies. The different seasons are posted by different users. The files were not posted by an official Showtime, Viacom, or This American Life account. The This American Life website makes no mention of the show's availability on Youku but does point to other, legitimate sources. There is no record of a distribution deal between Youku and Showtime, Viacom, or This American Life. What do you want, a notarized letter from Ira Glass saying the copies on Youku are unauthorized?
posted by jedicus at 11:59 AM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have contacted TAL for an official pronouncement about the issue. I will post whatever response I get.
posted by jedicus at 12:05 PM on October 22, 2009


How about a notarized letter from Ira Glass deputizing all of us as his Kopyright Kops?

Or maybe we can let Ira Glass et al. deal with their copyright problems on their own. I mean, Christ, the amount of tattle-tales getting all het up because SOMEONE ELSE IS BREAKING THE RULES is absurd. If you don't feel ethically able to watch the This American Life episodes because you believe they're pirated, don't. But assume that other people are adults and that they can make their own decisions, even when those decisions differ from yours. As this is unlikely to catch Matt flak, it doesn't really matter.
posted by klangklangston at 12:07 PM on October 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Or maybe we can let Ira Glass et al. deal with their copyright problems on their own. I mean, Christ, the amount of tattle-tales getting all het up because SOMEONE ELSE IS BREAKING THE RULES is absurd. If you don't feel ethically able to watch the This American Life episodes because you believe they're pirated, don't. But assume that other people are adults and that they can make their own decisions, even when those decisions differ from yours.

Or we could decide that this is a self-policing community website with social norms that include at least trying to pay lip service to the law and the rights of artists.

By your logic, there is no reason not to have an FPP of someone's favorite torrent sites or favorite porn sites or favorite racist sites. Or maybe we should repeal the self-link rule. No reason adults can't make their own decisions about what to post and what to click, right? After all, if you have an ethical problem with any of it, just don't click the links.

MetaFilter is not 4chan.
posted by jedicus at 12:15 PM on October 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


"wrong in principal" and "wishes of the creator", seriously? No wonder there aren't more comments from the "information wants to be free" crowd, too boring.
posted by Chuckles at 12:22 PM on October 22, 2009


I really don't know if it's legal or not, though I suspect the former. If Google Video can't make that decision for me and if Viacom hasn't told Youku to remove the video

VIACOM DOES NOT OWN SHOWTIME. If you're going to posit specious theories about imaginary content arrangements, at least bother to get the basic, indisputable facts correct.

I'm not opposed to the post in question, on principle, namely because I think the arguments for contributory infringement are rather weak in this case and because the framing of the post isn't too shady or illicit. What I am opposed to is the disingenuous nature of your arguments, twoleftfeet:
How can a simple person like me decide if I am properly allowed to view a particular piece of web content? How can I censor my own curiosity if no one else will?
You are so full of shit.
posted by dhammond at 12:48 PM on October 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ah, thanks for clearing up the bit about Viacom and Showtime. I had assumed twoleftfeet was correct about that and didn't check it myself, so pardon my repetition of the association.
posted by jedicus at 12:54 PM on October 22, 2009


gjc writes "This analogy makes my head hurt. If you want to be more correct, it should really be 'Wow, Toyota makes some really fine automobiles. And Toyota of Middletown, USA, leaves their storage lot unlocked.' You really are trying to say that's ethically equivalent to saying 'Wow, Toyota makes some fine automobiles, and you can buy one at Toyota of Middletown'?"

Yes. Telling someone a fact, even if that fact can only be usefully applied to illegal pursuits, is not immoral. Even if that fact is how to synthesize LSD in your kitchen, grow marijuana in your basement, mix explosives in your shed or where to find a lot full of unlocked cars. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if Toyota of Middletown was thankful if you told them all their cars were being left unlocked every night.

gjc writes "I'm not saying it should be illegal to posses or pass along such information. But I am saying that the principle is really, really different. Plausible deniability is not equal to ethics."

I'm not talking about plausible undeniably. I'm saying giving a person directions on how to do something or where to procure some good irregardless of the legal status of that procedure, location or good is not and can not be wrong on principle. Whether we're talking about the location of a house (crack or court), where to download music (public domain or not) or how to dispose of a body (human or dog).

jedicus writes "Similarly, one could make an FPP about the growing availability of digital media in libraries and there would be lots of interesting, appropriate angles to the story. An inappropriate angle would be 'here's how to make illegal copies of music and DVDs from the library without the library getting suspicious.'"

FYI: Checking a CD out of the library and then making a copy of it? Totally legal in Canada.

jedicus writes "Google will respond to a DMCA take down request and remove search results that lead to infringing material. "

Yep, and then they link to the C&D which contains a link to the offending page thereby being merely two degrees of separation from the infringing material instead of one. I wonder if anyone has written a greasemonkey script to automatically rewrite those links yet.
posted by Mitheral at 12:57 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Or we could decide that this is a self-policing community website with social norms that include at least trying to pay lip service to the law and the rights of artists.

By your logic, there is no reason not to have an FPP of someone's favorite torrent sites or favorite porn sites or favorite racist sites. Or maybe we should repeal the self-link rule. No reason adults can't make their own decisions about what to post and what to click, right? After all, if you have an ethical problem with any of it, just don't click the links.

MetaFilter is not 4chan.
"

Well, no, that's a foolish misreading, and more bound up in your attempt to get us all to really care about the cause you're advancing than anything I said.

By my logic, the metric by which the Favorite Torrent/Porn/Racist sites would be evaluated would be their quality as content. Is there something special about the torrent/porn/racist site that makes it interesting and worth presenting to the general Metafilter audience? In this case, the answer would be: They have full episodes of TAL. From there, the next question isn't "Is it legal," as it's not any of our jobs to discern legality—the DVD code revolt that happened over at Digg would fail your legality question, yet it's still the best of what the web can do, routing around restrictive and immoral controls on content. The next question after "Is it good content," is that of "Does it pose serious and substantial risk to Metafilter as a whole?" From there, legal questions can be raised, but in this case, the answer is no, no it does not.

I don't begrudge you your morality. It'd be fine for you to inveigh against folks utilizing this for circumventing copyright. But, again, they're adults and can make that decision for themselves.

I do begrudge your attempt to appeal to emotion by trotting out the nonsense about racist sites, and remind you that the ban on linking to them is because they're seen as more trouble than they're worth. But racism or pornography itself aren't the disqualifiers, and pretending that they are makes you out as a pompous moralizer rather than someone able to consider an issue fairly. You should probably recuse yourself, as obviously this issue clouds your judgment.
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 PM on October 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Just want to give a quick shout-out to my man Andrew....Happy bitrhday homie
posted by Damn That Television at 1:14 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Mitheral: I'm saying giving a person directions on how to do something or where to procure some good irregardless of the legal status of that procedure, location or good is not and can not be wrong on principle.

Of course it can- it's all a matter of where you sit on the spectrum of things being "bad". There are, in fact, a few explicit instances of that on MeFi- goatse, tubgirl, etc. Linking to those sites, even though they are quite legal, is verboten. I'm not equating those with Yuoko, but pointing out that your argument is not cut-and-dry.

Mitheral: plausible undeniably

Whosa whatnow?
posted by mkultra at 1:17 PM on October 22, 2009


I was going to comment on that silly idea to recuse yourself from a MetaTalk thread but instead I'll point out that Firefox doesn't think "recuse" is a word.
posted by smackfu at 1:24 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, no, that's a foolish misreading, and more bound up in your attempt to get us all to really care about the cause you're advancing than anything I said.

What cause am I advancing? I've repeatedly said my sole concern is that the FPP is framed entirely around accessing content that is illegal for most MetaFilter readers. The FPP could have been about Youku and non-Western video sites generally if that were the main point. It could have been about the Showtime series or TAL generally if that were the main point. But the main point is quite clearly "look, here is free content that you would otherwise have to pay for," which is a pretty terrible FPP, for reasons of poor quality and illegality. And even if it isn't likely to "pose serious and substantial risk to Metafilter as a whole" it's still morally questionable.

By my logic, the metric by which the Favorite Torrent/Porn/Racist sites would be evaluated would be their quality as content.

That's not what you said before: "[O]ther people are adults and that they can make their own decisions, even when those decisions differ from yours." So who are we to judge the quality of a site as content for others? Surely we should let them make their own decisions, even when those decisions differ from our own.

But let's judge the quality of this FPP, then. There have been at least 26 FPPs about TAL, not counting this one. At least one post discussed the Showtime series. Youku hasn't gotten quite the same coverage, but it has been mentioned and linked to. Thus, even by your new, improved metric, this FPP still fails.

the ban on linking to [racist sites] is because they're seen as more trouble than they're worth...racism or pornography itself aren't the disqualifiers

Really? You think that if the site readership were down with racism or links to porn sites that the mods wouldn't intervene anyway? What is your basis for believing that?

But again, even accepting this view, how has this not been more trouble than it's worth? The mods have already said that any follow on posts ('look at this other series also available on Youku') will be deleted.

racism or pornography itself aren't the disqualifiers, and pretending that they are makes you out as a pompous moralizer rather than someone able to consider an issue fairly

Name calling, nice.

Anyway, I could make the same argument that you are advancing the anti-copyright cause, moralizing about the legitimacy of copyright infringment, and that your judgment is clouded by your desire to rationalize your own behavior. But I won't do that because I am considering the issue fairly rather than attacking the other side. And after fair consideration of the issue, my vote is with keeping FPPs whose sole purpose is to promote copyright infringement out of MetaFilter. Clearly you disagree, and we're not about to convince each other, but hopefully a consensus view will emerge from the wider community.
posted by jedicus at 1:36 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


But racism or pornography itself aren't the disqualifiers

Actually, they have been disqualifiers for several posts, haven't they? At least, the deletion reasons the mods add seem to point to that fact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:41 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have contacted TAL for an official pronouncement about the issue. I will post whatever response I get.

I wrote 'em earlier today. I didn't ask for a pronouncement, but just to make them aware of the issue. I received a thankful response and for those who are curious, the chain of response concerning copyright violation goes TAL -> Showtime -> CBS.
posted by Atreides at 1:45 PM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


VIACOM DOES NOT OWN SHOWTIME.

From the wikipedia article that idiotic scream linked to:
Owned by Showtime Networks, Inc. (CBS Corporation)
Note: CBS Corporation = Viacom
posted by Sys Rq at 1:48 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, well, so apologies to twoleftfeet then, who had it right from the beginning.
posted by jedicus at 1:50 PM on October 22, 2009


Ah, from that Wikipedia link, it states that Viacom does not equal CBS. It states a parent company essentially owns majority shares in both CBS and Viacom. It even explicitly states that, "A new company, keeping the Viacom name was spun off from CBS. CBS, not Viacom, retains control of the partial and total over-the-air television & radio broadcasting, TV production & distribution , publishing, pay-cable, recording, and outdoor advertising assets formerly owned by the larger company."
posted by Atreides at 1:53 PM on October 22, 2009


Yes, CBS and Viacom are essentially the same thing here, though I suppose that if you enjoy splitting legal hairs you certainly belong in this discussion.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:54 PM on October 22, 2009


Note: CBS Corporation = Viacom

I work for Viacom. They have been separate entities for over three years now.
posted by dhammond at 2:02 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


OK. OK. My memory is three years out of date. But whether it's CBS Corporation or Viacom they still haven't issued a takedown. Google Video added these Youku videos five months.

Youku hasn't gotten quite the same coverage, but it has been mentioned and linked to.

No, not really. One tiny link in a comment from 2008 does not get you anywhere close to the same coverage. I bet most of us hadn't heard of Youku before today.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:07 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: Showtime used to block access to its website to non-US users. Not just videos and such, the actual front page.
posted by smackfu at 2:09 PM on October 22, 2009


Metafilter: separate entities for over three years now
posted by owtytrof at 2:15 PM on October 22, 2009


"What cause am I advancing? I've repeatedly said my sole concern is that the FPP is framed entirely around accessing content that is illegal for most MetaFilter readers."

"Or we could decide that this is a self-policing community website with social norms that include at least trying to pay lip service to the law and the rights of artists."

You believe, or your comments here lead to a reasonable conclusion that you believe, that the law is correct here and that it is a reasonable approximation of morality. You're trying to argue that we shouldn't link to those episodes because it's wrong and illegal, and beging the question regarding whether breaking the law is always wrong. I don't believe it is, and I don't believe that you're making a convincing case for it being regarded that way.

"But the main point is quite clearly "look, here is free content that you would otherwise have to pay for," which is a pretty terrible FPP, for reasons of poor quality and illegality."

Poor quality? You don't like This American Life? Because otherwise, your first objection makes no sense—the Mojo Nixon FPP was all about free content that you would otherwise have to pay for. That leads me to believe that, to put it bluntly, your concerns over quality are bullshit and can be dismissed. Ergo, the question is one of legality. As legality itself is a poor metric for assuming quality (plenty of illegal advice is permissible on AskMetafilter; plenty of technically illegal copyright infringement makes for acceptable posts, like the comix post today), your argument is nonsensical.

"That's not what you said before: "[O]ther people are adults and that they can make their own decisions, even when those decisions differ from yours." So who are we to judge the quality of a site as content for others? Surely we should let them make their own decisions, even when those decisions differ from our own."

Oh my, a novel argument against relativism! Others can make their own determination regarding the legal risk they run. That's a separate issue from the argument over whether this qualifies as acceptable content.

"But let's judge the quality of this FPP, then. There have been at least 26 FPPs about TAL, not counting this one. At least one post discussed the Showtime series. Youku hasn't gotten quite the same coverage, but it has been mentioned and linked to. Thus, even by your new, improved metric, this FPP still fails."

Do you even know what argument you're making? I don't happen to like This American Life very much (I find the radio show rather affected and wish they'd cut out all of the music and framing, though I tend to like the stories), but clearly you've demonstrated that the community is interested in it. Therefore, it would be of interest to the community, especially those curious who have yet to try the television series, to see these links.

If you want it deleted because we've already talked about TAL enough times, well, sure, fine. Go ahead. But don't try to bullshit me and pretend that's the argument you're making.

"Really? You think that if the site readership were down with racism or links to porn sites that the mods wouldn't intervene anyway? What is your basis for believing that?"

I'm trying to be civil here, but when you keep making such outrageous statements, it becomes hard to take your arguments as more than bloviating dudgeon. I've linked to pornography here before and it was generally well-received outside of arguments over whether I needed to use the NSFW label. As for racism, you don't think there's ever been links to, say, racist Doom mods? Or to blogs like that of the Holocaust Museum Shooter?

The problem with this tangential argument you're making is the same problem with advocating for internet filters at the library—prior restraint is over-broad and under-effective. It's silliness from people with too much time on their hands.

"Name calling, nice."

Oh no! Are the vapors causing you to swoon? I called your pose pompous and moralizing. More sententious rhetoric isn't likely to change that belief.

"Anyway, I could make the same argument that you are advancing the anti-copyright cause, moralizing about the legitimacy of copyright infringment, and that your judgment is clouded by your desire to rationalize your own behavior."

But that would be bullshit, given that I haven't infringed here, and generally hew more toward koeselitz's behavior regarding when I pirate.

"But I won't do that because I am considering the issue fairly rather than attacking the other side."

Oh, don't let false piety stop you. I will, however, take this as tacit admission that you see your position as indicative of personal bias, and are trying to falsely equate our stances. That's a noble admission.

"And after fair consideration of the issue, my vote is with keeping FPPs whose sole purpose is to promote copyright infringement out of MetaFilter."

Right. I'd agree with you there. However, given that any plain-text reading of the post would show that the obvious purpose is to share episodes of This American Life, thus promoting their enjoyment, along with subsidiary (and likely post hoc) interest in Yuoko.com, this is clearly not one of those cases, and would only appear to be one if the reader was filled with a prior bias against copyright infringement to the detriment of their common sense.

"Clearly you disagree, and we're not about to convince each other, but hopefully a consensus view will emerge from the wider community."

Clearly, I disagree with your attempt to wangle this FPP into more an endorsement of copyright infringement than This American Life or Yuoko.com. But given that the consensus that matters is of the mods, and they've effectively spoken, I'm content to leave things as they are instead of trying to convince the rest of the community that my jihad is righteous.
posted by klangklangston at 2:36 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


"But again, even accepting this view, how has this not been more trouble than it's worth? The mods have already said that any follow on posts ('look at this other series also available on Youku') will be deleted."

Oh, missed this.

It seems perverse to thump the drum over how terrible this is, then claim that hue and cry as evidence that it's more trouble than it's worth to have these links. The only reply is, Well, it'd be no trouble at all if you'd stop complaining.
posted by klangklangston at 2:39 PM on October 22, 2009


I work for Viacom. They have been separate entities for over three years now.

You work for a new, (more or less) separate company called Viacom. The old Viacom, the content-owny one (per this discussion), is now called CBS Corporation. The equals sign upthread was meant to indicate "is now known as"

In other words, Viacom != Viacom.

Corporate shell game, anyone?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:48 PM on October 22, 2009


I don't happen to like This American Life very much (I find the radio show rather affected and wish they'd cut out all of the music and framing, though I tend to like the stories), but clearly you've demonstrated that the community is interested in it. Therefore, it would be of interest to the community, especially those curious who have yet to try the television series, to see these links.

Question. If someone posted on AskMefi with this question...

"Hey! I totally love TAL, but I don't want to pay for the dvds or download and I know a bunch of my fellow Mefites probably have this same question, but how can I watch TAL the television show on-line for free?"

...would that question be allowed to remain up?

If not, I would assume because the answer being, "Sure, go to Youko.com, they got 'em all!" would be considered helping someone perpetuate a crime, which is against AskMe policy. In our current circumstance, the answer is provided prior to the question being asked, and that somehow makes it okay not to be deleted? It's the same content and it'll provide the same opportunity to do what AskMefi refuses to allow to happen.
posted by Atreides at 2:55 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


In other words, Viacom != Viacom.

Nice try ;-)
posted by dhammond at 2:59 PM on October 22, 2009


...would that question be allowed to remain up?

Um, that question is up (essentially), with a response from someone telling them just to torrent them...
posted by Big_B at 3:06 PM on October 22, 2009


...would that question be allowed to remain up?

Yeah, pretty much. For instance: How can my parents get English TV in Italy?, in which several of the answers were "torrent sites".
posted by smackfu at 3:06 PM on October 22, 2009


Foolish consistency, hobgoblin, etc., but out of curiosity what distinction (if any) do you see between the post in question here and this one?

The funny thing is that exact same deletion reason could be used for this post:
Ack. The main link does indeed look like a bit of (however unintentional) piracy, and without it there's not really so much of a post here. Maybe someone can try this again at some point with a focus on some in-the-clear resources? -cortex
posted by smackfu at 3:17 PM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think if people were providing specific torrent sites then it'd be much more in line to my example. Though, its funny that someone is now asking how to use Youko.com to get more shows.
posted by Atreides at 3:22 PM on October 22, 2009


Search ask metafilter comments for "uknova".
posted by smackfu at 3:25 PM on October 22, 2009


Hey Outragefilterers, copyrighted unlawfully posted shit is linked to multiple times every day here. Yes, really.
If the discussed post had links to 30 cool jazz videos or two seasons of Turkish Ninja Batman there would be a post but no discussion.

Stuff White People Like-alert
posted by mr.marx at 3:33 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's pretty obvious that some video content is pirated on youku, tudou, guba, etc... because the image quality is so bad (sometimes lifted from old VHS tapes, etc...) I have no doubt that they have some licensed video content, but mostly from Chinese sources I suspect.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:48 PM on October 22, 2009


When YouTube first got big enough for NPR to notice it, one of their guys did a commentary that rhapsodized how it was like "a time machine for musical history" that let one travel back to see James Brown on the T.A.M.I. show, The Ramones at C.B.G.B's, etc. He also seemed pessimistic about the copyright situation by using the phrase "as long as it lasts".

And you know what? As someone who grew up in the pre-Internet era, the advent of video sharing has been a miracle of new horizons opening. Whatever societal benefit copyright was intended to secure, for me there is no question whatsoever that its death - or at least its infirmity - is a far greater benefit.

Someday, the law will probably catch up. [Though, judging by the marijuana situation, not for a very long time.] I'm not willing to wait.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:31 PM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Youku definitely has copyrighted material that it is showing in China (see the links in the MeFi post to full length movies), but as far as I can tell it does its best to block it from other regions. So the question is: "why isn't Youku blocking This American Life in the U.S.?" I don't know the answer to this, but I can't assume it is deliberate copyright infringement. There could be other reasons (imagine the scenario in this blog post where it benefits content providers to cooperate with Youku to avoid other forms of piracy.) Youku has a revenue stream through advertising and it's not impossible that it is sharing it with TAL. The burden of proof of copyright infringement is on the accuser here, although the phrasing of this MetaTalk post - "copyright-defying" - might have misled people.

Youku isn't some little pirate site - Alexa ranks Youku at #8 in China and puts it in the top 100 worldwide. It has also been growing rapidly in popularity. Eventually people in the West will hear about it, so it's worth having this discussion.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:41 PM on October 22, 2009


Youku isn't some little pirate site - Alexa ranks Youku at #8 in China and puts it in the top 100 worldwide.

So it's a big pirate site?

Look, if it's that interesting do a post on it. But "here's some warez" isn't a decent post, and it isn't telling us about Youku.
posted by Artw at 4:48 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and The burden of proof of copyright infringement is on the accuser here, although the phrasing of this MetaTalk post - "copyright-defying" - might have misled people.? Fuck off. It's warez. You know it's warez, we know it's warez. Don't play silly pretend games.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


"here's some warez"

Warez? Prove it.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:51 PM on October 22, 2009


Honestly twoleftfeet, your "gee golly I don't know what's going on here" willfully ignorant attitude is really fucking annoying and a bunch of obvious bullshit. I wish you would drop it but I doubt that's gonna happen since you seem to be pretty dug in with it.
posted by dead cousin ted at 5:03 PM on October 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know what I find fucking annoying? The assumption that any content you can get from a Chinese site that you can't get on Youtube has got to be copyright infringement. Answer two questions:
1) Why isn't TAL blocked in the U.S. when other U.S. content is?
2) These videos have been up for over five months. Why hasn't the owner issued a takedown notice?
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:10 PM on October 22, 2009


1) Why isn't TAL blocked in the U.S. when other U.S. content is?
2) These videos have been up for over five months. Why hasn't the owner issued a takedown notice?



Question for you. I wrote Seth Lind at This American Life about the Youko situation. He's the guy you contact with business related questions concerning TAL. He made no mention in his response to me that he was aware of Youko, much less acknowledging any sort of revenue sharing. His response was basically, "Thanks, I'm going to contact the folks who will see about taking care of the problem."

So...if this was a kosher deal, why would this guy in the know of TAL's business side of things, not just tell me, "Oh, it's cool, we've got a deal with them. In fact, we hope you enjoy them!" ?
posted by Atreides at 5:19 PM on October 22, 2009


That's why we can't have nice things. Take it as you will.
posted by VikingSword at 5:23 PM on October 22, 2009


Thank you Atreides. I'm going to change my position. If CBS Corp hasn't even heard of Youku then I will side with the "copyright infringement" camp. But I have to think that CBS Corp is incredibly oblivious.

If it is copyright infringement and this little post leads to a correction of the problem then my work here is done.

Do see This American Life sometime. It's a good show.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:34 PM on October 22, 2009


Do see This American Life sometime. It's a good show.

Cool I'll do that, got any links?
posted by naju at 6:04 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]



Cool I'll do that, got any links?

Sure. I'm not sure if this site has any agreements or not with TAL so it should be fine.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:48 PM on October 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


twoleftfeet: Thank you Atreides. I'm going to change my position. If CBS Corp hasn't even heard of Youku then I will side with the "copyright infringement" camp. But I have to think that CBS Corp is incredibly oblivious.

If it is copyright infringement and this little post leads to a correction of the problem then my work here is done.

Do see This American Life sometime. It's a good show.


TLF, would it have killed you to do exactly what Atreides did before you posted? And why did you post this? What is your work here? If you wanted to introduce us all to the fantabulousness of Youku, why didn't you make the FPP about that?

Anyway, thanks for letting us know about this show! Sounds v. cool!

klangklangston: You're way too smart to be this stoopid. You're a writer. If everything is free and up for grabs, how do you get paid?
posted by dogrose at 9:07 PM on October 22, 2009


The two seasons are posted by two different users.
not proof.

since Youku.com clearly didn't get them from the source, well...
not proof.
posted by krautland at 9:44 PM on October 22, 2009


Do I really need to go back and point out how many legally dubious links to videos are on metafilter? I don't understand why this one is any different from the many and various youtube round-up posts.

I'm not going to check every fucking youtube video I post to make sure it was approved by a copyright holder. It's up to the distributer to determine the legality of distributing the video.
posted by empath at 10:13 PM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just on the front page right now:

Soupy Sales

Whatever this is.

I Love Comix

I mean, I could go on. But if we had to be copyright police on every FPP, metafilter would be a poorer place.
posted by empath at 10:16 PM on October 22, 2009


"You're way too smart to be this stoopid. You're a writer. If everything is free and up for grabs, how do you get paid?"

Kill fees, mostly.

ZING!
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 PM on October 22, 2009


Just on the front page right now:

Yeah, and note that none of those FPPs are just "Here is a link to a warez site so you can get something for free that you could easily get a bunch of other ways".
posted by Artw at 11:07 PM on October 22, 2009


naju: Cool I'll do that, got any links?

I gave one at the top in the post here, but here it is again.
posted by koeselitz at 12:42 AM on October 23, 2009


krautland: not proof.

Yes proof. Copies not gotten legitimately are clearly illegitimate.
posted by koeselitz at 12:43 AM on October 23, 2009


Anyhow, I think this went well. I'm not really strongly on one side or another; I just thought it would be worthwhile to have the debate, and that's why I posted this here. Thanks, all.
posted by koeselitz at 12:44 AM on October 23, 2009


empath: I mean, I could go on. But if we had to be copyright police on every FPP, metafilter would be a poorer place.

I also agree that a policy of abject paranoia and strict bannination enforcement would really hurt us here. But I think it's nice that the community is pretty self-aware, and I happen to believe that being aware of these issues and acting according to some moral scruples about this stuff is worthwhile and helps us out. For example, I don't mind streaming bits and pieces of video and other media here and there, and I think a fairminded egalitarianism about this sort of thing is a fine thing to have. However, that's different from posting the entire run of a TV show, a TV show that furthermore happens to be connected to a radio show that is ongoing and quite good, and which I happen to support indirectly by supporting public radio. If sales of this DVD set mean that This American Life has more funding to continue, I'm all for 'em, and I'll do what I can to help out, although I'm not going to run out and become some copyright fascist tomorrow morning.

That's all; I just think it's worth us keeping in mind.
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


mkultra writes "Of course it can- it's all a matter of where you sit on the spectrum of things being 'bad'. There are, in fact, a few explicit instances of that on MeFi- goatse, tubgirl, etc. Linking to those sites, even though they are quite legal, is verboten. I'm not equating those with Yuoko, but pointing out that your argument is not cut-and-dry."

Is linking to goatse and tubgirl bad or is tricking people into following a link to them ala that idiotic RickRoll meme the problem? Would the flashing link below with the link text "Do Not Follow. This link is to goatse.cx which is a picture of a man with a stretched out anus" be a bad link? Or even immoral? Personally I don't think so.
Do Not Follow. This link is to goatse.cx which is a picture of a man with a stretched out anus
Is that link vertboten? I don't think this comment will get deleted and I don't think it would get deleted from the blue either. One of the mods linked to images of a man sodomizing a chicken which was OK because everyone knew what was at the other end of the link. It's hard to go more wrong than necrophilic beastality yet the link itself was just fine. Note the comments that inlined the images were deleted though.
posted by Mitheral at 2:38 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


mkultra: There are, in fact, a few explicit instances of that on MeFi- goatse, tubgirl, etc. Linking to those sites, even though they are quite legal, is verboten.

That's actually definitely not true; Mitheral's right on this one. If you're talking about FPPs, then yeah, it would be frowned upon, but without pretending to know what exactly is in their hearts and minds I'd predict that the mods would collectively say that it's more about context than anything else and that saying anything is flatly 'verboten' would probably be too hasty. And furthermore in the case of comments I know for a fact that when it's come up before here and people have complained about bad language, disgusting links, et cetera in the comments, mathowie himself is on record as saying 'go nuts,' and that the comments are a fair area for saying anything you want to really in terms of so-called 'offensive content.'

Frankly, that's one of the things that has always impressed me about Metafilter; it's a high level of subtle care and thoughtfulness that recognizes that goatse.cx is not simply evil in itself, whereas using a word in a sexist or homophobic way might bring on some judicious comment deletion. But even in those cases, it would be silly to say that there's anything 'verboten' beyond the sentiment behind them itself; I can talk about words like bitch, cunt, whatever, without being sexist, and here I think we understand the difference.
posted by koeselitz at 3:30 AM on October 23, 2009


koeselitz: If you're talking about FPPs, then yeah, it would be frowned upon, but without pretending to know what exactly is in their hearts and minds I'd predict that the mods would collectively say that it's more about context than anything else and that saying anything is flatly 'verboten' would probably be too hasty.

I am talking about FPP's, and I can pretty much guarantee one with a link to goatse or tubgirl would be deleted with extreme prejudice.

empath: Do I really need to go back and point out how many legally dubious links to videos are on metafilter? I don't understand why this one is any different from the many and various youtube round-up posts. I'm not going to check every fucking youtube video I post to make sure it was approved by a copyright holder. It's up to the distributer to determine the legality of distributing the video.

Good lord, don't be so obstinately daft. Are you honestly expecting me to believe that (a) you can't grok the difference between a post that is devoted to sharing questionable content and one that has a link to questionable content in the context of another topic, and that (b) you are incapable of seeing a link to TAL served up from a Russian file-sharing site and understanding that it's probably not kosher? FFS, just stop it. No one lives in your world.
posted by mkultra at 7:02 AM on October 23, 2009


my work here is done

LOL! Now do you ascend to heaven like Jesus and Starbuck?
posted by brain_drain at 7:26 AM on October 23, 2009


you can't grok the difference between a post that is devoted to sharing questionable content and one that has a link to questionable content in the context of another topic

Yes, I don't see the difference. A link to questionable content is a link to questionable content. The framing doesn't have any impact on the questionableness of the content.
posted by empath at 7:30 AM on October 23, 2009


I am talking about FPP's, and I can pretty much guarantee one with a link to goatse or tubgirl would be deleted with extreme prejudice.

For what it's worth, that's not really quite true even though I don't think you're far off from the mark functionally. Throwing a random shock image link into a post for no good reason is a really bad idea, throwing one in undisclosed is a particularly bad idea, and I don't think in general that the decision to do so would speak very well to the posting sensibilities of the person doing the work.

But I can sit down and contrive a situation in which someone making a clearly disclosed link to one of those images in the body of a post could be okay. Probably kind of controversial, but not auto-delete material. Whether it's all that likely that someone would end up putting together such a post in good faith and unprompted is another question.

Pretty much a sidebar to all this, granted, but it is more of something that's carefully staked out than something that's just had a blanket thrown over it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:53 AM on October 23, 2009


Well, if it wasn't for cotex I would have never known about knifebutt or lemon party. Seriously.

previously and previously
posted by cjorgensen at 8:55 AM on October 23, 2009


Well, if it wasn't for cotex

Ew.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:37 AM on October 23, 2009


Ah man. I so did not mean that.

And I also wasn't trying to conflate the about two sites. I already had heard of the others. These were new to me. And I didn't seek either out.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:54 AM on October 23, 2009


Ahh. I've figured out the problem. We are running up against the kind of people who believe that anything is OK as long as nobody stops them. It's up on the site, I can access it, therefore it must be OK.

These kind of people can't be reasoned with... it is a failure of logic and an inflation of ego: the world owes me boundaries, because I shouldn't be expected to make decisions on my own.

Information might want to be free, but so do prisoners. That's not an argument. Creative works are more than information, just like a book is more than words and a car is more than steel.

Unless you are the creator/owner of the work, your opinion really doesn't count.
posted by gjc at 5:10 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


gjc writes "Unless you are the creator/owner of the work, your opinion really doesn't count."

Well I can't agree with that but feel free to believe your opinion doesn't count.
posted by Mitheral at 5:17 PM on October 23, 2009


If not, I would assume because the answer being, "Sure, go to Youko.com, they got 'em all!" would be considered helping someone perpetuate a crime, which is against AskMe policy.

Just pointing out that unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material is not a crime.

It's only a crime if you distribute copyright material (as through napster or a bittorrent file)
posted by empath at 5:23 PM on October 23, 2009


Copyright infringement on a work that is commercially unavailable and/or about to fall entirely off the cultural radar despite deserving attention bugs me a lot less than copyright infringement against something easily purchased and/or quite popular or overhyped. I'm not making the case that the lack of availability makes it any more legal, but I do perceive some degree of moral difference.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:25 PM on October 23, 2009


Ahh. I've figured out the problem. We are running up against the kind of people who believe that anything is OK as long as nobody stops them. It's up on the site, I can access it, therefore it must be OK.

No. That's not the problem. It's not about "kinds of people". The problem is that the web doesn't really tell you anything about content ownership. If you can access it, you can access it. In some situations you might have heuristics that guide you in assessing content ownership ("this filename looks suspicious", "this source is suspect"), but there is nothing intrinsic in the structure of the web that conveys content ownership.

Absent reliable data about content ownership, nothing prevents people from sharing and linking to interesting content that may be presented without the consent of the content owner. However well intentioned we may be, this will happen because people want to share interesting experiences they find on the web. So the dialogue that resolves ths dispute has to happen between content owners and content distributors, not within the community of content users.

Youku is likely to become the YouTube of China. Youku allows a whole movie or TV series. Metafilter allows links to YouTube. Therefore....
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:30 PM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of the differences is that Youtube appears to take down videos quite frequently when requested by the copyright holder. Youku, Tudou, and 56, not nearly as often.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:47 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


BrotherCaine, 56 itself was taken down (for the count?) These sites take down content faster than YouTube has to, because porn or dissent-provoking content can kill the whole site. Youku in particular has been relatively effective in filtering uploads to avoid takedowns from China, and, while not taking down, has been blocking U.S. content for U.S. visitors.

Please feel free to provide links for your statistical claims.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:58 AM on October 24, 2009


My claims are anecdotally rather than statistically supported. In the past two years or so I've been able to find western (UK, US, some Canadian) content much more easily on Tudou than Youtube, and somewhat more easily on Youku than Youtube. This despite having to look up characters in a language I can't read. Some of this content has obviously been lifted from videotape. I will concede that all three sites make more of an effort to clean copyrighted content than zshare or the Russian sites. But I'd put Youku on par with Megavideo for ratio of pirated content.

It may be that the barrier to Youku taking down pirated content is the lag in finding and reporting such content across a language barrier.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:11 PM on October 24, 2009


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