#SN09 When technology and business meet

This week at the SuperNova conference (link) an impressive set of business and technology leaders meets in what organizer Kevin Warbach calls: the executive forum for the network age.

What new opportunities and threats appear with new network technology? Technology allows new good things to happen, like online video sharing. It also allows misuse of that technology, like copyright infringement (even though not everybody considers that illegal).

What I find most interesting is how making this all work involves a combination of business, legal and technical approaches to make it all work.

For example, Zahavah Levine of YouTube explains their procedures for handling copyright issues. Even though 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute (see also an earlier blog) it is all compared against a reference database that is contributed by content owners. If an upload matches, an appropriate action is taken, usually removal. This is then notified to the uploader. The uploader can dispute that (the more hilarious cases of that are when the marketing department of a content owner uses its own copyright material in a viral video). A dispute by the uploader triggers a manual inspection by the content owner. Only then could there be a legal case of notice and takedown. This avoids a lot of work at YouTube’s legal department.

The interesting aspect of this is how subtle and cross disciplinary this process is. Apart from legal and technical measures it is based on deterrence. With this procedure, the content owners cannot automatically declare everything illegal. On the other side of the fence, uploaders face termination of their account if they trigger infringement three times. This deters them because they are likely to have invested a lot of time in filling their account.

Now how could this system be hacked? One way would be to have hundreds or thousands of accounts upload copyrighted content simultaneously, and subsequently dispute the removal. That would effectively be a distributed denial of service attack on the reviewing department of the content owner. But would it be worth it for uploaders?

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