English Football Association Calls Foul On YouTube

Rights holder to the Premier League, the English FA, has sued Google’s YouTube service in New York. The obvious question, why aren’t they just using the safe harbour provision in the DMCA to have the content taken down? Because they believe that YouTube sanctions the clips to attract people to the site for commercial gain (via ad impressions).

“They said YouTube had consciously encouraged people to view content on its site in order to raise its profile, violating the material’s commercial value. Defendants which own and operate YouTube have knowingly misappropriated and exploited this valuable property for their own gain without payment or licence to the owners of the intellectual property,” the lawsuit said.

Google’s Football Logo

This is starting to sound a well worn path, but it’s one that can easily be argued by lawyers. And by relying on it, Google is building a business on a foundation that could easily collapse – just one case against them, even if it does go to appeal, will be highly damaging to their share price.

I’m reminded of modern mathematics in the period just after the end of the World War Two and the solving of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Pretty much every high level proof included the phrase “Assuming Taniyama–Shimura is true…” This was the Taniyama–Shimura conjecture in modular arithmetic that allowed a one to one connection between elliptic curves and modular forms. Famously the proof of Taniyama-Shimura would also prove Fermat’s Last Theorem. The problem, and nightmare, of mathematicians is the conjecture would prove false, and all the theory work of almost 40 years would fall apart like a house of cards built next to a puppy with a very waggy tail.

A huge amount of Google’s income is built on a similar construct – that they can create income on the content that people are searching for. Such as in YouTube. Such as selling AdSense space to Company A when someone searches for Company B (who work in the same space). Such as gathering information on your searches from the desktop. If one of the ongoing court cases knocks out a single pillar of Google’s income structure, then the pieces of a failed maths problem could be the least of their worries.

One Response to “English Football Association Calls Foul On YouTube”

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