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HDNet Founder Mark Cuban and Google Spar Over Copyright at FCC Hearing

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By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

July 21 – The founder of a high-definition cable television channel and a top content official with Google sparred at an FCC field hearing on Monday over the role that search engines should play in policing broadband content for copyright violation.

Mark Cuban, co-founder of HDNet and the owners of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, compared Google’s policy of allowing users to upload content that may infringe on others’ copyrights to allowing Google to define for itself what pornography is and isn’t.

Cuban spoke on the first of two panel at an FCC Hearing, on “The Future of Digital Media,” held in Pittsburgh.

After championing YouTube’s ability to enhance understanding between people’s, promote freedom of expression and democracy, and ennoble cultural understanding, David Eun, vice president for content partnerships at Google, was forced to counter Cuban.

Eun said that over the past 18 months, YouTube has developed a system to identify when content uploads are placed on YouTube. Since more than 13 hours of content are uploaded onto YouTube every minute, it is nearly impossible to track every upload before it is on the website, he said.

Content owners have the right to disputed content, and often do, said Eun.

Content owners may utilitize a “notice and takedown” procedure called for by a 1998 digital copyright law, meaning that when they notify Google of infringing content, Google has an obligation to take the content down, although it is shielded from liability if it meets the law’s requirements.On this matter, Google’s YouTube has been sued by Viacom over alleged copyright infringement.

At the hearing, Google found itself being squeezed between attempting to please copyright owners like Cuban and others who want a free and open internet.

Cuban said that Google’s policies demonstrated an attitude in which the company is more inclined to ask for forgiveness than permission. Cuban said he disagreed with the assumption that other businesses would have no objection to their content being illegally copied, so long as the businesses from which the content is stolen were able to profit from the monetization of the video.

As a content owner, Cuban said he would rather be told first if his content is being put on the Internet.

Also attending the field hearing were representatives of companies and trade association including Intel, American Cable Association, WhereverTV, DeepLocal, Sim Ops Studios, and Conviva.

Jeff Lawrence, director for global content policy at Intel, told the FCC that the 1394 Connector should be replaced with a standard internet protocol home networking connector.

Matthew Polka, president of the American Cable Association, asked the FCC to exempt small companies from the requirement that cable operators “must carry” broadcasters’ multiple digtial television streams. This would allow small cable companies to invest more in broadband, he said.

Polka also bemoaned the “steep” costs of broadband, the scarcity of capital, and the difficulty of maintaining a broadband system in rural areas where a company may have to send a worker on an hour drive to service a customer.

Mark Cavicchia, CEO of WhereverTV, drew applause from the audience when he decried Time Warner’s “ludicrous” and “unreasonable” limits on broadband usage. Universal punishment of users is wrong, he said, adding that only those who abuse access privileges should receive punishment.

Nathan Martin, CEO of DeepLocal, voiced his disapproval of wireless companies’ “confusing and arbitrary” regulation that retards innovation, while Jake Witherell, a advisory board member of Sim Ops Studios, championed the continuation of an open internet and the need to promote digital literacy.

During the panel, Cuban also said that a market for three-diminsion video is emerging. Movies, sports games, plays, and music concerts will all utilitize 3D imagry, he said.

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