An incident recently occurred online where a particular Islamic scholar’s video went viral. The only problem was it was uploaded to an unauthorized account.
This creates a dilemma on the administrative side – allow the unauthorized content to be published, or take it down?
The truth is this problem should never have occurred in the first place. It’s impossible now to fully control your content. Even with advanced algorithms, copyrighted material gets posted online all the time.
Let’s first cover the ideal way an organization should operate, and then look at how to respond to these situations.
Understand the medium. Things like conferences are mainstream events that are meant for public consumption. They are not the same as a private class. The audience usually consists of thousands of people. It is inevitable that people will post the talk.
An organization’s goal should be to have an online platform so large that it doesn’t matter what anyone else posts. When people come googling the name of your conference or the speaker, an official presence should be the first thing that pops up. Along with that, for these types of public talks, your organization should take the initiative to go ahead and post them before anyone else. Even if you are a little late, it is ok because it’s expected that your official video will be in HD with clear audio – i.e. substantially better quality such that no one will watch the video anywhere else.
In the long run this reinforces your organization’s presence, marketing, and branding. It also lets the audience connect with you more, which is the name of the game in the social media age. It takes a change in understanding what you charge for as well. In the case of a conference, people pay for the experience more than they pay for actual content. Posting the material online won’t hurt your numbers, in fact, it will probably make even more people excited about attending your next event.
I should emphasize that what I’ve written here is specific to Islamic conventions (i.e. not classes or seminars).
How to Respond
I have no problem with an organization sending down a take-down notice if they plan to republish the content later (whether for free or for sale). But you have to keep in mind that it can become a game of cat and mouse where you are constantly looking for people posting your material without permission. If you don’t have a reputation of publishing or selling your material in a timely manner, people who were moved by a certain talk will do what they can to spread it.
In a situation like this it’s important to quickly own your own platform. Let people know that you’re working on releasing it, or when to expect to be able to buy a video. Otherwise, if you work to just keep removing it, others will become that much more motivated to keep spreading it.
See: Streisand Effect.