Anti-Copyright Bots Shut Down the Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards are an annual awards ceremony honoring the very best in written science fiction and fantasy in different categories. The Hugo is named after Amazing Stories founder Hugo Gernsback

The awards are presented each year by the World Science Fiction Society at the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon). In more recent years, the awards have been made even more popular by Internet broadcasts of the ceremony via Ustream.

But this year, it seems the new fancy anti-piracy copyright detecting bots over at Ustream have shut down the broadcast after short segments of the nominee’s works tripped their detection software.

io9 reports:

In the middle of the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which thousands of people tuned into via video streaming service UStream, the feed cut off — just as Neil Gaiman was giving an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, “The Doctor’s Wife.”

I can respect UStream’s efforts to stop its users from re-broadcasting copyright content. However this is proof that this may not be the most effective way to deal with it.

The segments used were of the very few categories that relate to video and the bits shown were well within the “fair use” limitations of copyright law.

WorldCon and the Hugo Awards were wronged by this snap judgement of UStream’s copyright bot, and while it may lead to a refining of the tool, unfortunately this was not resolved before the ceremony ended. Fans of the presentation were robbed of the show, and twitter was all a buzz with the unfounded interruption.

If you are curious, you can visit The Hugo Awards for the results of all the categories.