The RIAA and MPAA have been complaining about piracy of music and movies for years. They've sued individual users for exorbitant amounts of money and were a huge part of the driving force of SOPA & PIPA (some would say they were the only driving force). Their profits have been cut into and that's stealing, and they're going to make sure that anyone caught pirating content will end up receiving as much punishment as possible. Unless, of course, the piracy culprit happens to be the record labels themselves.
Yesterday, TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid published a fantastic piece exposing the piracy police as the very pirates they rail against. You see, Kincaid had been at the Sundance Film Festival. While Sundance started out as an "indie" festival–and even the films shown are still "indie"–it seems to be a very corporate environment these days, with all sorts of brands hosting parties, setting up booths, or giving out goodie bags.
One such brand was VEVO–you know the top YouTube Partner channel that is a join collaboration between the major record labels and YouTube. In fact, VEVO was created, in part, to fight piracy in online video by creating an official home for music video content.
According to Kincaid, the VEVO booth at Sundance had some TV's set up… showing an illegal live stream of an NFL game. Yes, the company owned by the record labels was broadcasting pirated video content. Here's video of the event in question:
For their part, the company is blaming a guest at the Sundance booth:
A guest of our lounge asked for an NFL game to be aired. We said no. There was a laptop hooked up to VEVO.com that fed into the large TV screens around the bar. Unfortunately, the laptop was easily accessible to the public. That was our mistake for not making sure the laptop was more secure. While VEVO staff was in other areas of the venue, the game was put on – via a website transmitting ESPN's broadcast of the NFL game – without our permission or knowledge.
I like VEVO… I like what they're trying to do and the destination they're creating for music fans… but my general affection for their mission doesn't change the fact that it was pretty negligent to get caught pirating something. And whether it was a VEVO employee or a consumer seems like a pretty fine line to draw, if you ask me.
Video creators and marketers already know how murky the copyright waters can be… and this kind of thing won't make them any clearer.