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Submission + - Valve Employee & Questionable Copyright Views

An anonymous reader writes: As Gabe Newell, Founder and Managing Director of Valve Corporation, the extremely successful software company behind the Half-Life franchise, continues expanding Steam, Valve's copyright enforcement tool, he might want to take a closer look into how Valve writer Chet Faliszek employs copyright law on a site promoting Valve's software. Faliszek, the less well known partner (along with comic book artist K. Thor Johnson) in developing 1990's popular website Portal of Evil (POE), launched POETV in 2005.

Faliszek joined Valve in 2006 and has since served as a contributor to the game Left 4 Dead. His POETV (www.poetv.com) is another repackaged content site that allows users to re-post and rate Youtube videos. The problem comes in the lack of review on what goes up at POETV. It's a problem common to Youtube and other internet video sites. Many videos posted to POETV appear to be blatant violations of intellectual property law. As one POETV user complained recently "Linking to a video on poetv is a great way to get it removed from youtube for copyright violations. We generate too much attention!" [1]. However, unlike Youtube and Google Video, Faliszek appears uninterested in even pretending to enforce copyright laws. According to him, "poeTV has been operating under the principal of fairuse [sic]. It shows items of lesser quality, most of the time drastically lesser."[2] In a long post on the subject he appeared to defend POE-TV's blatant, unlicensed use of copyrighted video by claiming that using substantially lower quality video is "fair use". In posts to his site he claimed repeatedly to have employed a lawyer in establishing POETV's copyright policy. Even among his own users these claims have been questioned and sometimes refuted. Previously, in a discussion in which he lambasted the administrators of Piratebay .org and appeared to applaud the seizure of their equipment, he posted, "Content creators get to set the price and rules for their labor. If you don't like it, don't consume. but you have no god given right to consume anyone elses [sic] labor". Beyond his "low quality" defense, he refused to explain how POETV related to this statement.

If POETV was only a personal website for Chet Faliszek and his friends, the story might not be relevant. However, POETV seems to have become an occasional marketing vehicle for Valve [3] and one that is gaining attention in the online world. The site was recently featured on Wired.com. [4] Faliszek has posted more than a few Valve promotional videos to POETV and appears to be promoting it heavily. In a climate where companies are desperate for viral marketing with credibility, some may question a company that relies heavily on copyright and imposing strict copyright control that also employs a person running a site that seemingly features blatant violations of intellectual property law. Faliszek's "low quality" defense notwithstanding, it seems clear that POETV relies heavily on unlicensed copyrighted material. Would Valve be as forgiving and positive as Faliszek expects video copyright owners to be?

[1] http://www.poe-news.com/forums/sp.php?pi=100151967 9
[2] http://www.poe-news.com/forums/sp.php?pi=100122188 5
[3] http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=1124 http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=5120 http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=5135 http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=6124 http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=11079 http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=16423 http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=16432
[4] http://blog.wired.com/tableofmalcontents/2007/06/t om-recommend-3.html

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