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Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has decided to crack down on Fox News clips appearing on the Internet, recently sending out more than 150 takedown notices to YouTube. The efforts caused the temporary shutdown of News1News’ YouTube channel, which provides clips of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the Fox News gang to a number of web outlets, including Huffington Post.
There are a couple of ways to read this new development.
At first, Fox News’ DMCA claims seemed to be targeted at the liberal blogosphere as a way to prevent left wingers from ridiculing the channel’s personalities. But Fox News later sent takedown demands and subsequently caused the shutdown of some right-leaning YouTube channels too, such as GlennbeckClipsDaily and ConservativeNation.
We wonder whether the crackdown on Fox News clips is the first phase of Murdoch’s stated threats to scrub Google and its affiliates of News Corp. properties. Murdoch’s plans have generated curiosity and heated discussion, including from lawyers debating whether his intentions fly under “fair use” analysis.
But there’s another way to read what’s going on.
In the past couple of years, many rights-holders have wondered whether embedded clips threaten their businesses. In May 2008, Fox, CBS and NBC took down RedLasso, a then-popular web service that let users search its database of recorded television for clips to post online. (After signing licensing deals, the company recently relaunched a more modest version.)
Less noticed has been a New York court case between ASCAP and YouTube. In May, YouTube was ordered to pay $1.6 million plus future payments to account for the public performance of music on the video-sharing website. But that didn’t end the case.
After ASCAP started targeting websites and bloggers who embed clips, YouTube agreed to pick up the legal fight on downstream embedded uses of YouTube videos. Currently, both sides are before the Copyright Royalty Board arguing how much YouTube should be charged to allow its users to embed videos.
The decision, as well as crackdowns by Murdoch and others, could end up impacting the future of embedded video clips online.
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