In the on-going battle between media moguls Viacom and YouTube/Google, Viacom has had to take the defensive and quell fears of invasion of privacy of hordes of internet video purusers of the wildly popular YouTube. It seems that as part of the $1 BILLION dollar copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Viacom against YouTube and its parent, Google, a judge ruled that YouTube must turn over it’s vast database of videos and the usage data along with it. This data would include user names, IP addresses and profile information that users have included such as hometowns and even names.
Privacy advocates went ballistic, accusing Viacom of trying to acquire the names of YouTube uploaders and viewers in an attempt to pursue, in the vein of the RIAA’s prosecution of those downloading illegal music. Viacom suddenly was thrust into a PR nightmare and had to substantially back-pedal and qualify that they only wanted the usage data to either prove or disprove that the majority of YouTube’s content is user established and proprietary to uploaders, rather than copyrighted programming. As such, YouTube agreed in principle to provide the data “masked” through other naming or numbering to hide the actual user names and information from Viacom. This may or may not appease the ACLU-types, as masking doesn’t necessarily protect users if they can be tied via a usage pattern to other databases that could provide user data.
It is interesting to me that Viacom had no real issue with YouTube until Google and their deep pockets made the scene. Perhaps Viacom sees this suit is an easier money maker than, say, providing quality programming that would attract more and better advertisers.
No, Viacom has chosen to pursue a company that has repeatedly shown that it proactively tries to prohibit copyrighted material from its servers and has always complied with taking down material upon request. That complies full with the DMCA — the law by which this case is governed. Confused? Perhaps this video can shed some light.
In the meantime, there is speculation that Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart will actually be called as witnesses in the case. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps it will be to lament how their pockets are being picked by wanton pirates who are uploading their shows, as well as nefarious viewers who are illegally watching their shows through YouTube instead of on The Comedy Channel, where advertisers pay hordes of money to Colbert and Stewart, by way of Viacom, for viewers to tune in there.
Here is a NEWSFLASH. Viacom, along with many other media companies have MISSED THE BOAT. Again. Instead of joining forces with YouTube to further distribute their programming and broaden their audiences, they are once again, shooting themselves in the foot by trying to cripple or destroy one of the outlets that are actually helping them to sustain viewers.
Go through this with me. Let’s use The Daily Show for an example. Now, certainly, there are people who watch The Daily Show every day. They consider Jon Stewart a god and tune in every day at x:30 to soak up his sardonic witticism and sarcastic political diatribes. Let’s say that he gets a 10 share or 10% of American TVs were tuned in (a generous number, here). That leaves 90% of us who are not watching him or maybe not watching anything, for that matter.
Common sense tells us that unless they happen to miss an episode, the loyal 10% are not relying on YouTube to provide their Jon Stewart fix. So, YouTube is really a big, ole billboard for The Daily Show in that people like me may tune in to a YouTube video linked onto a blog that I read or that someone emails me. Then, perhaps, Mr. Stewart intrigues or entertains me enough to take a real interest in what he has to say. Well, I will want to hear him say it at x:30 on the days that he’s on and if I can’t make it, I can always set my DVR to record it. Regardless, I am going to the source to get my content.
Let’s face it, old movies and TV shows don’t make YouTube until they’ve already been played on TV. How does this affect my viewership of something like The Daily Show on The Comedy Channel? They aren’t running every show in re-runs for me to catch up. Some networks like NBC do provide episodes of their TV programs to watch via their websites, so I can understand their beef. But, again, isn’t YouTube simply providing trailers for people to find these shows? Very rarely are you going to find ALL of the episodes of a particular TV program on YouTube. But, a snippet of one might just cause you to seek out the TV program (on its network), if you are appropriately stimulated to do so.
I also find it interesting that The Daily Show can be found on the front page of Hulu.com, so evidently they are not above having viewers watch their show on a competing network’s vehicle. (Hulu is owned by NBC/Universal.) While I understand that they are getting paid, why not try to strike a similar deal with YouTube. YouTube actually approached Viacom about cutting a deal that would allow them to broadcast Viacom shows and in return, YouTube would build filters (similar to their porn filters) that would block material from Viacom projects from being uploaded without consent. Viacom views this as strong-arming and has declined. It just appears a bit hypocritical to me that Viacom agrees to sell its programming to Hulu (a competitor) and won’t work out a deal with YouTube and Google. Sadly, what they miss is that if they did, they would be viewed as pioneers of progress and amply rewarded by increased viewership.
While the revenue stream for musicians and writers is more convoluted, they are missing the same boat by not embracing the awareness-building outlet of YouTube to gain exposure for their music. Some artists “get it” and that’s why you’re starting to see YouTube channels like Radiohead, AliciaKeys, mayermusic, and AmosLeePodcast. These guys understand that YouTube is a vehicle for distribution. To engage the viewer/listener. To evoke enough of an interest to have that viewer buy tracks, seek out concert tickets, and become A FAN. Once you’ve got fans, then the word of mouth of people like you and me become more precious than diamonds and gold. The label is not getting the arist the kind of exposure YouTube and other non-traditional on-line outlets, like blogs, are providing. Again, why not embrace the change instead of trying to eradicate it. In the annals of history, there is no-one who has ever stopped progress through limiting technology. Why try something that has been proven to fail every time?
YouTube may have a bit of a rock road to travel, however because of Google’s deep pockets they are here to stay. IMO. If not, I’m going to be really pissed.
Here’s some Tubeliciousness that I came across today. Imagine being deprived of these?
Astral Weeks, Van Morrison
Street Corner Preacher, Amos Lee
It Take Two to Tango, Aretha Franklin & Ray Charles
Slip Slidin’ Away, Paul Simon (live @ Abbey Road)