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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.

This blog is not affiliated with Google.