One solution that the industry has pushed for in the past is legislation—the Stop Online Piracy Act that roiled Internet freedom activists. And, as Forbes’ Woollacoot points out, anti-piracy legislation still looms as a possibility:

Last week, for example, the US Commerce Department proposed to Congress that certain provisions of the Stop Online Piracy Act—defeated last year—be revived. One of these covers the sharing of “a performance or display of the work”—wording that could easily apply to YouTube covers. Google staunchly opposed SOPA at the time, and is no doubt dreading the possibility of having to fight those battles all over again.

If that theory is correct—that Google’s aiming to show policy makers that there’s no legislation needed here—then it makes a little bit more sense that this report reads like a political position paper, one that argues that the powerful companies on both sides of this issue are working out the right policies on their own. And that there’s no need for Congress to stick its fat little fingers into this issue again.

Disclosure: CJR has received funding from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to cover intellectual-property issues, but the organization has no influence on the content.


Sarah Laskow is a writer and editor in New York City. Her work has appeared in print and online in Grist, Good, The American Prospect, Salon, The New Republic, and other publications.