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More on Minnie Mouse Porn

I keep going back to the Minnie Mouse sex tapes on YouTube—not because I’m an costumed-character pervert, but because I keep wondering if Disney’s going to protect Minnie’s trademark, if not her honor, by shutting this down.
Sure enough, the first copies of the video did come down, but were replaced by a shortened version, with a Spanish-language description. And this one was not even behind the 18-or-over firewall.
A legal analysis was posted Thursday in the online magazine Slate, which explains how YouTube gets away with this and other seeming violations of copyright and trademark. According to Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor and co-author of “Who Controls the Internet?”, Section 512 of the Copyright Code protects YouTube and other sites that provide user-posted content, by virtue of the law’s “notice and take down” provision:
That means that if Jon Stewart notices an infringing copy of “The Daily Show” on YouTube, Comedy Central can write a letter to YouTube and demand it be taken down. Then, so long as YouTube acts “expeditiously” and so long as YouTube wasn’t already aware that the material was there, YouTube is in the clear. In legal jargon, YouTube is in a “safe harbor.”
That’s why, Wu suggests, Google’s recent purchase of YouTube might not turn out to be what the NY Times has termed a “litigation-laden landmine.”
Actually, Jon Stewart (or his network, Comedy Central) did notice infringing clips (as how could they not?) and on Friday, the network’s owner, Viacom, sent a letter to YouTube demanding that it take down clips from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and “The Colbert Report,” according to an anonymous Viacom source quoted today by Reuters. The purging has begun.
CultureGrrl is no lawyer, but I have a feeling there’s another side to Wu’s legal argument: How long can YouTube/Google manage to pull off this see-no-evil act, knowing full well that people are posting things without legally proper permission (shades of Napster)? Like many other things about content on the Internet, the blurry lines drawn by YouTube and its users will need clarification.

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