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November 25, 2006

Google Video - Legal Problems in Europe

A video uploaded to Google Video, that showed four teenagers beating an autistic classmate, stirred a lot of comments in Italy, reports Reuters. Two Google employees are under investigation, as a result of a complaint filled by Vividown, an Italian association. "There was this very disturbing video which was posted on Google Video a couple of weeks ago and we promptly took it down when we were notified," said Rachel Whetstone, from Google.

"In the footage the boy is taunted, insulted and kicked by one student in particular as others look on. The location seems to be a classroom and the people visible appear to be about 16 years of age."

The phenomenon of bullying is not new, but these aggressive children who like to abuse weaker or powerless children find another cruel pleasure in showing the humiliation to the world. What nobody noticed is that Google is just an intermediary between those who upload videos and the viewers. It's difficult to check (manually or algorithmically) if a video violates copyright laws or other laws and regulations. And even if the video hadn't been hosted on Google Video, it would have been on other sites.

In France, the producer of a film titled "The World According to Bush" wants 500,000 euros from Google, as his film has been uploaded to Google Video without permission. Flach Film, the production house, has an interesting point of view: "Google had not acted as a simple host but as a fully responsible publisher". They probably think Google has uploaded their film on purpose.

These cases aren't unique. Last week, a Digg user found the animation film Cars available for free at Google Video.

Google Video and other online video sites have a simple policy: users are responsible for the uploaded videos and if content owners complain, they'll take down the videos.


  1. Imho, if google is to be complained.... for more reason are those that had seen that video and never acted for a removal.

    On the right of each video, along with commants and so on, there's a link to report bad videos. Just 2 clicks to report a video. One to select report, and another to select the type of report (there's 4-5 types)

    I'm Italian and I followed the entire story from the very beginning (is on all newspapers in italy).

    As I know, Google promptly removed the video.
    Also, authors of the video had been found in a mere couple of days with collaboration of Google with police (after judge opened the case, obviously).

    In some part it's true, Google can't be held responsible for what had been shown. If it is, we could consider guilty also ISP's, phone companies and so on.

    On the other hand, vividown is trying to claim Google responsability also because that video ranked in the top 100 videos.

    Let's see what happen in the future.... :)

  2. Are Google videos not validated by Google before being published upon GV? If so, that means its Google's fault for letting this one slip. Whereas YouTube doesnt validate the videos first so they cannot be blamed for letting one slip through validation.

    "If it is, we could consider guilty also ISP's, phone companies and so on."

    Not really due to the fact the ISP's and Phone Companies do not say "We will validate this video", it is Google who says they will validate it, therefore its their own fault.

  3. For what I understand....

    Google does a technical validation of user submission. Meaning the recived file is automatically checked for specific file format, size and whatever. I suppose they also do an automatic check for specific words in description (even if that is passible to be faulty as isn't easy to implement a good filter)

    Also there's 2 kind of sunmission types....
    Web based and the one that needs a specific program/client.

    The latter one is for files over 100mb in size. And I think that those submission get a better check. Eventually to prevent users to sunmit entire films. Not that this can't happen anyway, expecially for indie films that are less known. I think error can still be present.

    For small sized sunmission I don't think there's control. And would be hardly possible considering the amount.

    I've tried myself to submit videos with both method. In one case you are placed in a pending approval for days. In the other, your video will be made avaible in about an hour (Suppose an hour is needed for google to convert formats, index and send entire file on different location/clusters for avaibility)