Mar 31, 2009

Latvia forbids YouTube embedding

One of the Latvian ministry of culture, Guntis Jekabsons, officially confirmed that embedding YouTube videos on web sites is illegal and will be prosecuted in Latvia as a violation of copyright if the author did not give his explicit permission about publishing that work on sites. So now bloggers in Latvia have to have an official proof that the author allowed publishing his work on web sites before embedding videos.
I wonder if such policy exists in any other country. As far as I know, the copyright holder contacts YouTube in this case and solves it with YouTube. Latvian officials seems to be "very far" from the Internet and do not know or care what practices exist in such cases.

Let's think a bit. What happens if the site is hosted outside of Latvia (somewhere in Ukraine or Russia or China or Brazil). It still may have a Latvian domain suffix. It will be a completely dead case. Domain registration cannot be cancelled because there is no violation of the domain name policy. The site cannot be closed because it is under another jurisdiction. Dead case.
It seems that latvian officials have no idea how the information can be hidden on the Internet. Their actions already cause people to hide. Just today morning I received a spam message advertising a '.lv' web site hosted in Ukraine with huge number of pirated Latvian movies. Will Latvian police be able to find it and close? Certainly not. I am sure that site was hosted in Latvia before. Now it is gone out of reach to officials. I am certainly against piracy but anti–piracy measures should be clever and adequate to the crime. Claiming embedding as crime sounds like a bad joke or complete incompetence.
One more story to add.
Some time ago many Latvian bloggers received a letter from the Latvian private company name AKKA/LAA, which demanded money for embedding videos to blogs. AKKA/LAA is a company that has monopoly on representing foreign and Latvian artists in Latvia. AKKA/LAA said that sites will be closed if bloggers do not pay for embedding videos to sites. This is another reason to move legal media hostings outside of Latvia.
Original news articles are available only in Latvian and Russian.


  1. Dmitry, you are right. But now guess who are the major forces behind that policy?

    The same kind of people which make you use the term "piracy" in an absolutely inappropriate manner. What do pirates have to do with distribution of information? Pirates normally don't hesitate to be violent and to use weapons. (see those at the Somalia coast atm). I don't see a reason to use the same term for those criminals and people embedding youtube videos. Find out more on the "piracy" subject in "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig:

  2. Dmitry, it's "Ukraine", not "Ukrain" :)

  3. Latvia is not the only country passing braindead laws related to Internet functionality. A lot of decisions taken by government are defined by people without enough knowledge or from lobby groups that want to fit "the net" nicely into their antiquated view of things. All you could do is training and talking to responsible people, stand up, and show why they are wrong in this case.

    In Germany we currently (next to tons of other problematic things) face some questionable movements towards internet censorship (providers forced to block certain sites with DNS redirects) coming from the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs in order to stop people from reaching childporn sites. As its a good idea trying to get those things of the net, it would be better to work with content providers and shut down the service instead of blocking the access with a technically simple to exploit solution. Other countries already showed this "blocking" solution simply doesn't work and shows many disadvantages: just announced the block list of Australia, and in Germany we had a house search at the domain owner of, just because his domain is an alias of, and he is now incriminated to be a helper for childporn access.

    It will take us years if ever possible to stop politicians from releasing non-working laws and this fight must be taken in every country again and again. I wish you good luck in your case and encourage any actions of you towards a better understanding of the net for politicians in your country.

  4. eater, note taken, problem fixed :)

    * * *

    What bothers me in this whole case is incompetence of those, who take these decisions. Why don't they ask experts how to do it better? Why do they try to solve the problem in the area where they don't have enough knowledge.

    I remember reading somewhere that incompetence and self assurance level grows when the person gets higher in the power hierarchy. Very few bright people avoid this problem. May be this is a reason: boss always thinks he is right.

  5. Hi Dmitry, I also live in Latvia. You know how it is here, if a job needs doing it is never given to the person capable of doing it, and the person who does the job has no idea of his incompetence. It's always "jā, jā, jā, saprotu, būs labi!" If you hear these words be very afraid. :-)

  6. Hi, do you think you could tell me more on latvia's position on internet censorship?

  7. On the "plus" side, it looks like Latvian blog comment-spammers are just as incompetent as their government officials.