Most of the fevered talk about Reddit’s new content rules has focused on its half-hearted burying of offensive material. That’s meant the line forbidding the posting of copyrighted content on the service has avoided scrutiny.
But, as TorrentFreak smartly points out, it could be a huge problem for Reddit and some of its most popular subreddits. Here’s the key point in the new rules:
These types of content are prohibited… Anything illegal (i.e. things that are actually illegal, such as copyrighted material. Discussing illegal activities, such as drug use, is not illegal.
It’s pretty cut and dried that subreddits such as /r/fullmoviesonyoutube and /r/illegaltorrents are flagrantly in breach of the new diktat. Visit either and you’ll find the mods and subscribers in meltdown about the changes.
But what about hugely popular forums like /r/pics, /r/adviceanimals, /r/videos and /r/gifs? All of them are home to sharing of copyrighted material. Many of the site’s most visited subreddits could effectively be gutted.
Of course, Reddit has paid lip service to copyright concerns in the past. Its user agreements have included clauses saying that copyrighted material is not allowed for years. But that restriction was not explicitly articulated in the site rules until now.
Reddit can claim safe harbor status in the US by complying with DCMA takedown requests. It also abides by takedown requests that come from beyond American legal jurisdictions.
Ultimately though, it’s been turning a blind eye. From now on, with the ‘no copyrighted material’ clause one its ‘tablet of stone’ commandments, it’s going to see a lot more issues.
Think about it, practically every GIF on the internet is snatched from a copyrighted source. The majority of the images that end up on Reddit are poorly sourced or not credited at all.
Of course, most copyright holders aren’t bothered about GIFs, probably surmising that they’re good promotion, but photographers and other artists are frequently enraged by image theft.
Another great subreddit crackdown is on the horizon unless Reddit articulates a more nuanced view about how it intends to act as sheriff in the Web’s Wild West.
➤ Reddit’s unenforceable ‘no copyrighted material’ rule [TorrentFreak]