Live-streaming video services have seen their ups and downs. But a hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee is putting Justin.TV in the hot seat. The live-streaming video service provider is testifying at the hearing this week, hoping to prove that it is well within the legal rights regarding copyrighted content that gets included in any live-stream video feeds. Justin.TV is looking to be protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to prevent it from prosecution regarding the content its users upload.
The issue here is of course the use of copyrighted content. Under the DMCA certain content is protected for use by online publications, even if it’s copyrighted. Stipulations include the length of a video clip used, among other things. For Justin.TV and other live-streaming video services, the issues surrounding the use of copyrighted content can be vastly different from what’s already been experienced by other online video hubs such as YouTube.
The returning popularity of live-streaming video services means that the legal issues surrounding their use must be re-addressed, especially now that other standards have been issued for other forms of online video-sharing. YouTube faced quite a legal battle with major broadcasting companies wanting copyrighted content taken down, and that goes for direct copyright infringement as well as indirect copyright infringement such as lipsyncing a copyrighted song.
One way in which user-generated content sites have avoided severe legal implications is due to the fact their content comes from other users instead of from the company itself. This places the company and its services in the unique position of a service provider–not a content provider.
Additionally, the use of technology that recognizes and flags copyrighted content has offered an immediate solution to issues surrounding the uploading of copyrighted content, presenting a series of loopholes for service providers and users alike to take advantage of.
The hearing this week deals specifically with the live broadcasting of sports events, with live-streaming video services like Justin.TV facing the wrath of major broadcasters all over again. What Justin.TV says is unavoidable, the broadcasters see as potential loss of revenue.
Re-addressing the issue of copyright infringement in an era where live-streaming video services are beginning to regain traction is what’s really unavoidable here. With more devices equipped for live-streaming, additional sharing mechanisms and improved networks, live-streaming video will continue to permeate several aspects of our media-sharing activity. That means individuals are quite likely to include copyrighted content at times. Who owns the content and who makes money off that content is another story all together.
Revenue-sharing has been extended as a catch-all solution, with deals between video service providers and broadcasters trickling down to individual users for dealing with advertising opportunities and incentives for all parties involved. That hasn’t actually come to fruition yet, at least not in a manner viable to be implemented on a large scale. We’re left with a sticky situation that has few ways out and asks for a great number of compromises no matter which way you slice it.
Others, such as Qik and Kyte, may end up dealing with similar issues as they become useful tools for individuals to live-broadcast multimedia content. This all signifies the changing ways in which individuals interact with and control the media that is being created and consumed across the social web. It’s up to content owners to figure out the best way in which to live with and utilize these advances and developments.
UPDATE: Justin.Tv has officially shut down.