Are Copyrights Enforceable on DTube?
(Update: @heimindanger commented with additional information. Please see the comments section below for more details).
(Author's note: I am not a lawyer so I am taking the hypothetical position of a rights holder in this post. I am an American so issues such as "moral rights" which exist more strongly in other legal jurisdictions won't be addressed in this post. Special thanks to @itstime whose comment in a previous post helped to inspire this post.)
The first image of a post is also the thumbnail for the post. Therefore...
Photo Source: pirate-party.us
Let's say hypothetically I spent tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours creating a documentary about holograms. Maybe it wouldn't do well in theaters but I felt strongly enough that the world needed my documentary and I was willing to do the work. Maybe my documentary's claim that collecting holograms is the universe's most popular hobby was the biggest lie since Bryan Fuller claimed the Star Trek: Discovery series takes place in the prime timeline but since the universe is unexplored by humans nobody can absolutely prove my documentary's claim false.
In this hypothetical scenario I am happy in the beginning. I worked hard and I have a documentary I can claim as my own intellectual property. Then one day I find out there is this internet site called DTube and one of the site's users posted a full copy of my documentary on the site without my permission.
What do I do as a copyright owner of my hologram documentary?
As a copyright owner my first instinct would be to find out if DTube allows copyright owners to send the site DMCA takedown notices. In a previous one of my blog posts "What To Do If Someone Infringes Your Copyright on Steemit.com" I wrote a little bit about DMCA "safe harbor" and that steemit.com has a Designated Agent on record to send DMCA takedown notices to. As a copyright owner in this hypothetical scenario I would Google search "What is DTube?" and get:
Photo Source: google.com
That's great news for a copyright owner except "linked" to steemit doesn't seem to mean "owned" by steemit. From what I can determine steemit.com has no official involvement with DTube. From what I can find out through research DTube is owned by @heimindanger and a few team members help run the video platform site.
Photo Source: steemit.com
Well, as a hypothetical copyright owner I am angry after finding out my hologram documentary was posted on the DTube site without permission. Whether or not the site owner and DTube team members are aware that they are hosting an unauthorized copy doesn't alter how I would feel. My first priority would be to shut that illegal posting down. Hopefully a DMCA takedown notice would be sufficient because taking it to court would be a burden. I don't know how much money @heimindanger has (outside of the public steemit wallet) but in a blog post it mentions that @ned delegated 1 million steem power to the @dtube account. Maybe that means there might be some kind of secondary liability issue and action could be taken against steemit? If I ask my hypothetical lawyer I might get a response that that is an interesting question and the lawyer will check on that. By "check on that" I know that means I will be billed for at least 10 hours and be sent a letter with the answer of "uncertain" drawn out to five paragraphs.
As a hypothetical copyright owner at least I have a person's name to associate with DTube. But is that the person I would have to send a DMCA takedown notice to?
Through my research I have found two domains associated with DTube: d.tube and dtube.video. However, unlike steemit when I go to https://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/ to find the agent on record I don't see DTube having a DMCA designated agent. I do see a list of alternate sites in case I misspelled my search term. One of the alternate site suggestions is 3dvidtube.com and since I am Holovision that seems like something I'd be interest...No! No! No! Scrub that from browser history! Bad internet! Bad!
Photo Source: copyright.gov
There's nothing that legally requires DTube to register a DMCA designated agent. Registering one just gives "safe harbor" if an accusation of copyright infringement is brought to court. I don't register websites I own such as holovision.tv because I don't allow user-generated content on those sites. I am solely responsible for the material I post on my sites. DTube does allow registered accounts to post content and if you'll check my steemit post "DTube's Top Ten Copyright Infringers" you'll realize that might be a problem.
I am not sure how much location has to do with why DTube doesn't seem to have a registered DMCA agent. In the @heimindanger profile the location is K-Pax. I hope this is one of those joke locations or else this whole blog post falls apart. I am pretty certain without checking that K-Pax is not a signatory to the Berne Convention. This post is going to be long enough without throwing metalaw into the mix.
Photo Source: steemit.com
Here's the weird thing (besides being located on K-Pax): It appears DTube does get DMCA takedown notices. In the comments section of the @dtube blog it literally states in the current latest comment, " ...We have received DCMA complaints for this type of stuff before...".
Photo Source: steemit.com
I have no reason to doubt that. I'd be shocked if DTube hasn't yet got a DMCA notice. But to whom and how were the DMCA notices sent? The word "complaints" was used in the comment so maybe I am assuming that "notices" and "complaints" are interchangeable words but what DTube received were informal "please take that down" messages or just cease and desist letters. (Update: As @heimindanger explains in the comments section below DTube has received DMCA notices ever since DTube has enabled search engines such as Google to see and index DTube's content. See the comments section below for more details).
I also thought maybe if they were DMCA notices proper that were received by DTube the notices might have been sent to the contact that is listed on the site's WHOIS record but when I checked both d.tube and dtube.video WHOIS records the information is private and all I can really determine is that the sites were registered using gandi.net.
When I opened the full context of the most current @dtube steemit comment (I recommend the reader also read the full context since I am only posting a partial screencap below. The "show" button has to be clicked because of low ratings) I saw @animeopen expressing the mindset that I think most people who have posted whole episodes on DTube have:
Photo Source: steemit.com
I am not a great fan of anime so I had to look up what "Black Clover" was on Wikipedia. That's about two minutes of my life I won't be getting back. Also, I am a little worried about DTube's comments. Responding to @animeopen shows a certain amount of constructive knowledge. Since the comment was @dtube I don't know which DTube team member was responding to @animeopen. In my opinion it would be best if nobody tries to remember who was conversing with @animeopen just in case whoever owns "Black Clover" finds out about DTube. At the time of this writing all the episodes @animeopen uploaded appear to still be viewable.
If I were a copyright owner and I saw my work illegally posted on DTube I would be upset. At the time of this writing on DTube's FAQ section there are 14 questions. Not one of those questions is about what to do if you see your copyrighted material on the site. D.tube states on its site,
Because of the decentralized nature of IPFS and the STEEM blockchain, D.Tube is not able to censor videos, nor enforce guidelines. Only the users can censor it, through the power of their upvotes and downvotes.
Reading that after seeing my copyrighted material on DTube would make me feel...Well, let's use a brief clip I found on YouTube from the movie Short Circuit 2 to express it.
Posting full copyrighted episodes on DTube isn't acceptable. There is "fair use" for commentary and analysis. There are old movies and TV episodes in the public domain. "Not looking for profit" based copyright infringement damages people who have a legitimate right to look for profit.
If I were a copyright owner and someone posted my work on DTube the best I could do is get an account. I'd have to create an account using a third party since waiting two weeks for steemit to create my account just increases the amount of infringing already being suffered. Then I would have to go to an exchange to get STEEM sufficient enough to overtake the steem power of whoever the infringer is. Even after creating an account I probably never would have created and putting money toward something I would rather not deal with all I would end up doing is hiding the illegal copy behind a "show" button anybody could click on to watch. (Update: As @heimindanger points out in the comments section below DTube uses its steem power to downvote videos that are illegally shared).
Does it matter? No matter what happens I don't believe steem video sharing will be destroyed by the threat of copyright lawsuits. DTube might become defunct if a lawsuit was ever filed which would be terrible but due to the philosophy of open source and a strong steem community I believe someone else would restart steem video sharing. As long as the steem blockchain exists we have nothing to fear.
Photo Source: twitter.com
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