Congress Calls on Google to Explain Content ID

Today Senators Blackburn, Coons, Feinstein and Tillis and Representatives Collins, Nadler, Roby and Schiff sent a letter to Google’s CEO requesting some answers on Content ID.  They asked some specific questions:

Google Hill Letter Excerpt

These are all good questions.  (The “but” is coming.) One other question that they might have asked is taking into account all of the costs of dealing with YouTube (claiming, registering, correcting, and accounting) imposed on both those who rate a Content ID account (lucky them) and those who don’t, does the YouTube royalty compensate rights owners large and especially indies for the great privilege of dealing with Google?

Or–does the cost of dealing with YouTube with or without Content ID exceed the royalty paid?  Taking into account the soup to nuts costs, I have to believe that the actual out of pocket costs to pay a claiming service, the productivity loss of sending DMCA notices and the endless chasing and policing of the YouTube platform MUST exceed the royalty.

If you take a step back and include the costs for dealing with Google’s other services, leaks, etc., the royalty MUST be negative.  (Which may explain why some rights holders get non recoupable payments from YouTube to offset those costs.)  And this is what the Congressional delegation is getting at with question #5 above.  Google could use a solution like Content ID to police its other services (the rights holders certainly do), but they don’t.

And here’s the “but.”  One of the big mistakes people make in negotiations is assuming that their opponent is motivated by some of the same events that motivate you.  What if they’re not?  What if they do not share your basic values, concepts, belief in private property or even copyright?  What if they just make so much money that they simply do not care?  Kind of like the ontological definition of an asshole.  Imagine an asshole greater than which there can be no asshole and you have imagined Google and its employees.

So Congress folks should understand that these people do not care.  Plus, it’s not like they haven’t thought about this day when they get caught with Content ID.  There’s no gotcha moment here.  Gotchas only work with people who care they’ve been got.  Polite letters that alternate sucking up in one paragraph with a nice series of questions in the next are not going to get it done.


The fact is, these are not very bright guys and you have to push things til they get out of hand.

Not that bright.  But they are that rich.  They are that narcissistic.  They are that cruel.  (Case in point–David Drummond.)  They do have 1:10 voting stock that means they have no accountability to anyone.

So until the Congress is willing to talk prison time, until they are ready to start adding zeros to fines until it hurts, until they are ready to drop the hammer on these people, understand this–Google will ignore you.  Oh, they may answer you, but they will treat you like idiots.  Which means ultimately they ignore you.  You may have the watch, but they have the time.

They’ll outlast you.  But thanks, it’s better than nothing.