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You Are Here: Home» » YouTube and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) — How we're living in a remixed world

In this TED talk, Margaret Stewart, YouTube's head of User Experience, talks about how they deal with copyright issues by partnering with those who have a claim on intellectual property and, through a complex algorithm of locating possible matches, these partners are given the discretion if they'll allow the video to be posted or not. 

Yesterday, I was reminded of one of my most favorite videos ever on YouTube which is the remix of Jack Sparrow's infamous "Why is the rum gone?" line in Pirates of the Caribbean. It's what we nowdays refer to as a "mash-up" where different content are used to create something new. It does take a lot of skill and effort to create a mash-up like this. It is very inventive and innovative and not just anyone can do something like this. Although he used content from big businesses like Walt Disney and others, I assert that the video is something he can call his own.

A friend of mine, strong supporter of IPR, explains how in the world of medicine, you can claim patent on a molecule (taking into consideration resources and effort in research & development) but on competitors may only be able to use that molecule if it has been changed or if there has been an "inventive step" (something I believe to be so arbitrary). If this "inventive step" concept is accepted then we can assert that, in the video above, even when Walt Disney's discretion continues to allow the video to be posted, they actually have no claim to it because it has been modified so drastically that it is actual considerably an original piece of work.

This "inventive step" does remind me a lot of The Ship of Theseus that shows how change in essence (or in this case originality) is really so arbitrary. An example from Wikipedia:
"John Locke proposed a scenario regarding a favorite sock that develops a hole. He pondered whether the sock would still be the same after a patch was applied to the hole, and if it would be the same sock, would it still be the same sock after a second patch was applied until all of the material of the original sock has been replaced with patches."
I've actually recently been notified of copyright infringement in one of my videos, as they detected I used the song New Soul by Yael Naim but have been allowed to keep it posted.

I did not intend to steal, obviously. The song actually went viral after tons of parodies of the Macbook Air fitting into a Manila envelope ad showed up. If anything, being liberal about copyright has allowed Yael Naim to be even more popular as more and more listen to her song and get to know her because users are using her song in their videos. Here's the video:

The era of Web 2.0 really changed the concept of copyright. Both entrepreneurs and policymakers have to liberalize their position on IPR. And I believe it will be inevitable as the internet develops and becomes more organic and free. We saw how the world reacted when the US congress wanted to pass SOPA (a bill intended to protect IPR).

If you liked this post then you might also like:
1. Steve Jobs' 2007 Keynote on First iPhone
2. Intellectual Property Rights in the Philippines
3. Why is the Internet Slow in the Philippines


  1. This is Getit Virtual Expo:
    its nice to read this blog post

  2. Sometimes, just cause the spam is so entertainingly blatant that I can let it slide... hehehe

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