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Could Tur Bring YouTube Down?

  • Esquire, Tuesday, July 31, 2007 10:48 AM

Bob Tur filed a lawsuit against YouTube for copyright infringement, ast July--months before it made a dime from advertising or was purchased by Google. Since then, Tur's case has been overshadowed by Viacom's $1 billion copyright suit. Despite being asked to step aside by the major media player, Tur won't back down.

First and foremost, he says he's suing on principle, not for the money. An independent photojournalist, Tur licenses his work--which has ranged from famous images of the 1992 Los Angeles riots to O.J. Simpson fleeing police in his white Bronco in 1994. He believes big media doesn't care if the little guy is compensated properly or not, and his No. 1 concern is that Viacom and Google will eventually settle out of court.

In many ways, Tur is fighting the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the law on which YouTube's case stands. He says the DMCA is a farce, and that YouTube isn't necessarily legal under it. As Mark Curban, one of the video sharing site's harshest critics, says, the law doesn't protect against known copyright infringement. On the other side, Cory Doctrow, co-editor of the tech blog Boing Boing asks: "What universe do [Tur and Viacom] live in where they think they don't have to police their copyrights?"

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