Tuesday, October 24, 2006

YouTube and Google and Copyright, Oh My!

All the cool geeks are talking about Google buying YouTube and taking down thousands of copyrighted works and handing over user information to lawyers. And I'm sure I could post a rather lengthy diatribe about digital rights management and the DMCA and all that fun stuff, but I don't know if I have too much to add to the topic that hasn't already been covered, better, by someone with more research. I will however, comment on one somewhat sidebar issue.

The whole point of YouTube, according to their tagline is to "broadcast yourself". And I will admit, I have enjoyed the easy access to television commercials and music videos just as much as the next guy, but really, those kids are just photocopying pages from the encyclopedia and turning them in as their final paper. The best of the best, the videos that really make YouTube special, are the ones that people made themselves. Videos of kids singing the alphabet, or dogs with spaghetti wrapped around their snouts, or lip-synching to romanian pop songs, or putting on little back-yard plays, or hilarious little flash animations making fun of the president. The copyrighted works were bound to go away eventually - agree or disagree with the law, everyone knew that it was illegal. And maybe, once the initial frustration has gone away, the internet will get back to being creative.


twilighttreader said...

While I'll certainly miss all the copyrighted stuff easily available on Youtube (I think the only reason they hadn't been sued yet was because everyone knew they had no real money), my real concern is for mashups and remixes where users add their own creativity to previously-existing works. Despite the fact that this is protected under Fair Use, the big bad media companies like to use their legions of lawyers to try and ignore this fact.

Ryan Platte said...

Don't miss the other aspect of this, though -- TV and radio content float freely through the air. That has worked for some time now. Yes, there will be lawsuits, but companies are starting to catch on that they can ride the wave of interest in online videos instead of trying to hold it back. Right before the acquisition, a bunch of media companies signed agreements with YouTube...

Information wants to be free. Smart media companies will notice that and profit from creatively leveraging the hordes of people doing whatever they do online. Dumb ones that don't figure that out will die off.

But like you, I'm interested in the Long Tail of content that's being created out there. I made my first real foray into YouTube recently and, being an Orthodox Christian, was delighted by several nice videos made by Orthodox around the world. Monks singing "Christ is Risen" in several languages, a Divine Liturgy held in the remains of a church destroyed in Kosovo. There's something for everyone.