Dear @Ustream: You Are Forgiven

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You’ll know from my previous post and Twitter and basically everywhere else that Ustream shut the Hugo Awards live stream down Neil Gaiman’s acceptance speech.  The reasoning at the time was “copyright infringement.”  Now we know what happened from Ustream’s end (granted, I’m late to the party, but I feel obligated to say something after smashing Ustream on Twitter and my blog earlier this week):

This occurred because our 3rd party automated infringement system, Vobile, detected content in the stream that it deemed to be copyrighted. Vobile is a system that rights holders upload their content for review on many video sites around the web. The video clips shown prior to Neil’s speech automatically triggered the 3rd party system at the behest of the copyright holder.

I don’t know much about these kinds of programs, but clearly something needs to be done to prevent such things from happening in the future.  This might explain why Brad Hunstable, CEO of Ustream, has taken down Vobile pending further inquiry and said the following:

Our editorial team and content monitors almost immediately noticed a flood of livid Twitter messages about the ban and attempted to restore the broadcast. Unfortunately, we were not able to lift the ban before the broadcast ended. We had many unhappy viewers as a result, and for that I am truly sorry. As a long-time Firefly, Stargate and Game of Thrones fan among others, I am especially disheartened by this. 

As far as apologies and actions go, this is right at the top of “best apologies ever.”  Nobody had to petition Ustream to get rid of Vobile or to have it changed.  Hunstable didn’t argue with the public or try to explain away the need for inadequate copyright protection software.  He said “I am sorry” and suspended the Vobile service to recalibrate the settings.  Oh, and in that apology you’ll find lots of references to geek culture and a specific goal towards Internet freedom and fair use.  What more could you ask for?  Okay, so we could ask for free puppies or chocolate, but that’s a big much, don’t you think?

So, to Ustream, I say this:  You are more than forgiven.  You deserve and Internet hug.

That is all.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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