Hollywood producer Richard Gladstein claims Google is ‘aiding and abetting criminal activity’
The producer of the highly-pirated Quentin Tarantino movie “The Hateful Eight” has expressed his displeasure towards Google after his new movie was downloaded more than a million times after being leaked in December 2015. He claimed that Google and other search engines are “aiding and abetting criminal activity,” as they are not doing much to handle piracy.
Richard Gladstein suggests the search giant has the ability to wipe out piracy but is throwing up a ‘fair use’ camouflage to divert from the phenomenon.
However, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider that the company “continue[s]e to invest heavily in copyright tools for content owners and process takedown notices faster than ever,” and its “partnerships and distribution deals with the content industry benefit both creators and users, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the industry each year.”
A piracy group had got hold of a DVD “screener” copies of some of the hottest movies intended for Hollywood executives, and published it online – claiming to have an astounding 40 films to release in the coming weeks.
One of those was the Quentin Tarantino movie The Hateful Eight, which appeared online several days before its cinematic debut on Christmas Day. While there is no doubt that Tarantino and his associates went into breakdown behind the scenes, but it’s taken until now for an important member of the team to speak on the topic in public.
Richard Gladstein, president and founder of Film Colony and producer of The Hateful Eight, in a guest article published in THR, speaks on the issue of online piracy.
Hollywood producer Richard Gladstein says Piracy is a disease.
“Our industry is facing a content theft epidemic regarding the viewing and downloading of content in its entirety,” Gladstein writes. “Such activity results in financial losses to many hard-working crew members, actors, and other professionals as they receive less of their rightful share of residuals that fund their pension, health, and welfare benefits. Distributors and financiers also receive less than their rightful share of revenue. This causes fewer and fewer films to be made each year.”
More than 1.3 million people have illegally downloaded “The Hateful Eight” since Christmas Day. While Gladstein chose to ignore CM8, the group that placed his content online, the producer instead singled out Google and its video-hosting platform YouTube for the leak.
“Google and YouTube have the ability to create a vaccine that could eradicate the disease of content theft. But to the millions of us who watch as our works are stolen over and over and over and over again, millions and millions of times, Google is at best offering us an aspirin, and at worst, ignoring the disease,” Gladstein writes.
Instead, Gladstein makes the case that Google “deliberately” uses the issue of Fair Use to “obscure” the problem by ignoring the plight of creators everywhere, while throwing up roadblocks to discourage them from protecting their work from piracy.
“‘Fair Use’ is an important exemption and distinction to copyright law. It permits non-copyright owners to engage in analysis, criticism, and parody of copyrighted material,” the producer concedes.
“However, the ‘Fair Use’ provision and debate has also proven to be an extremely useful tool for those looking to distract from or ignore the real copyright infringement issue: piracy.”
In November 2015, Google announced it would be providing support to some users targeted by possibly irrational DMCA takedowns. “We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns,” wrote copyright legal director Fred von Lohmann. “With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the U.S., feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them.
He added: “We’re doing this because we recognize that creators can be intimidated by the DMCA’s counter notification process, and the potential for litigation that comes with it.”
Gladstein says the commotion created by Google centers around this recent announcement that it will provide legal protection to videos, which all utilize copyrighted works but in classic fair use scenarios.
If you’re struggling to see the link between supporting fair use and ignoring piracy, you’re possibly not alone, but Gladstein feels he’s onto something.
Fair Use is the principle that you can use a reasonable amount of copyrighted work in certain circumstances, like review, or analysis, or satire. It’s why news channels can show clips of movies, or an online reviewer can show parts of a TV show in their review, without the risk of being sued.
He argues that the Fair Use debate is “an extremely useful tool for those looking to distract from or ignore the real copyright infringement issue: piracy.”
“There is no way that the uploading of entire programs and movies to YouTube and other video hosting sites falls under ‘Fair Use.’ What Google and other search engines are doing when they direct a user to those files is aiding and abetting criminal activity,” he explains.
“[Google’s] incessant attempts to argue that there is a ‘Fair Use’ problem is meant to deliberately obscure the real and massive problem of tens of millions of illegal downloads of entire songs, albums, movies, and TV shows.”
It could be argued the company is failing miserably, if that is really Google’s intention. The matter of online piracy is persistently and widely documented and is hardly out of the headlines. However, Gladstein’s criticism of the search giant arrives at an important stage in the piracy debate.
The U.S. Government launched a public consultation to assess the effectiveness of the DMCA’s Safe Harbor provisions on the last day of 2015. The consultation will address the important points raised by Gladstein in his attack on Google among other things.
On one side, Gladstein and other like-minded individuals will debate that the takedown provisions of the DMCA are cumbersome and outdated, and that companies like Google hide behind the law in order to take as little responsibility for piracy as possible.
On the other, service providers and advocacy groups will raise fears over DMCA notice abuses that can suppress free speech and restrain fair use.
However, Gladstein in the meanwhile is just calling upon Google to act with respect.
“All I ask of Google is that they show respect for all creatives and copyright owners and not infringe on the gift of what we already own – the legal right to share our work with the public in the way we choose, at the time we choose, and allow all crews and financiers to receive the financial benefits they rightfully deserve,” Gladstein.
Google has been removing thousands of links to the movie “The Hateful Eight” from its search results since the day of its leak.