NBC vs. Veoh--The Verdict is In
On September 14, a California federal judge sided in favor of P2P Video service Veoh and blocked NBC Universal’s attempts for its copyright infringement suit to continue. Per Judge Matz, Veoh is now, and has been, behaving in line with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and has been doing a reasonable job of removing protected material from its site once informed that infringing material had been posted. This precedent may force the hand of content owners to come up with a new method of enforcing their copyrights vs. using the courts as a battleground to do so.
This recent decision points the ruler back in the direction of content owners; in this case a major motion picture and television studio, to enforce its own copyright protection. It’s likely that throwing money at prolonged court battles will do little in the way of forcing the hand of outside agencies to monitor the existence of illegal content, whether that agency is an ISP or a website. That will, per this decision, remain solidly within the domain of the content owner. If a studio is concerned about copies of their shows and films living on P2P sites around the world, it will remain their responsibility to track down those copies as well as issue and enforce subsequent take down notices.
As more consumers turn to their “second screen” as a robust source of video content—illegally distributed or otherwise—content owners are faced with scaling the same mudslide that buried the music industry. In an era where the model for advertising-supported broadcast content is contracting, it’s impractical for the studios, or any content producer, to justify increasing their hard costs towards efforts that will marginally, at best, increase their bottom line. While chasing down illegal content is justifiable, making the online environment a battleground will only serve to make enemies of their customers. Instead, the studios would be better served by rewarding legal behavior with an excellent and superior experience than is available via file sharing networks.
This has been the position that the InterStream Association has maintained: attract legitimate customers with a rewarding experience and degrade the illegal file sharing experience to the extent that it is no longer viable. Inside of a walled network, a media grid, the Association can ensure that legitimate content is given priority access to premium customers and protects that content from illegal distribution. Guaranteed service ensures a non-buffered viewing experience, and that paid distribution models will have a much higher success rate of attracting and maintaining relationships with VOD viewers. This will also serve to convert non-paying consumers of illegal content into legitimate, paying customers. Within the Grid, sustained traffic is recognized (e.g. illegal P2P files) and siphoned off to a “slow” lane where broadband allocation can be measured and provisioned.
Satisfying the demand of legitimate customers and inhibiting the choice of illegal file sharing reverses the value proposition for viewers who will continue to flock to the web as their primary source of video content. Through the process of technical, political and sociological means, piracy can be battled effectively while simultaneously insuring quality for consumers who are willing to pay for a superior, guaranteed viewing experience.