When a corporation alleges that an individual has infringed its copyright, the assumption is that the individual has violated the copyright until it is proven otherwise. This assumption is not unique. Whether through national security letters, testing, monitoring your actions, or ridiculous prosecutorial overreach, the corporations, backed by legislation and government entities, make it standard practice to invade the privacy or sovereignty of individuals and their property while using extreme measures to protect its own.
Last month at the Daytona 500 race, a horrible accident occurred in the final lap. Many people were injured. Fans, as is a common practice at Nascar events, were recording the race using personal devices collecting footage of the accident as it happened. These devices ranged from smartphones to video cameras and it wasn’t long after the accident occurred that video fans shot of the accident began showing up online.
Nascar, in a knee-jerk reaction to protect its image, responded to the distribution of the video by filing a complaint with Youtube, claiming the fan footage violated Nascar’s copyright. Youtube pulled the footage from display but by that time it was already going viral across the web. After a review of the content and deciding that it did not belong to Nascar, Youtube reinstated the footage. Nascar later released a statement that completely contradicted the reason it originally alleged that it had the footage taken down (below).
“The fan video of the wreck on the final lap of today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race was blocked on YouTube out of respect for those injured in today’s accident. Information on the status of those fans was unclear and the decision was made to err on the side of caution with this very serious incident.”
Privacy on the internet is constantly moving toward openness, but the major ISPs, Telecoms, and Media providers have a record of being slow to adapt but quick to attack. The Supreme Court recently ignored the appeal of a $222,000 verdict against a woman for having illegally downloaded and distributed 24 songs using Kazaa. An AT&T whistleblower was recently sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and $73,000 in fines for exposing a security flaw in the way 3G iPads were accessing the company’s website.
Reversing this trend of ever increasing corporate bullying is a hard fight to win but fortunately there are groups making efforts against these industry titans. Organizations like the hacktivist group Anonymous, online communities like Reddit, whistleblower outlets like Wikileaks, and numerous other groups are standing up to these bullies and exposing them to the one thing that they hate the most: exposure.