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Comments by YACCS
Monday, October 02, 2006

Maybe it's time to change the law

Yeah, collect millions, just try it.

YouTube’s Video Poker
Published: September 30, 2006

Chad Hurley effects a calm, almost detached demeanor, even as the Web site he runs,, has provoked a frenzy of consternation among executives of record labels, TV networks and movie studios. For millions of Internet users, the site that opened to the public less than a year ago provides a daily fix of odd and interesting video clips, from White House speeches to frat house pranks.

YouTube has also become a vast repository of video taken without permission from television shows and movies, not to mention home movies constructed — with nary a cent paid in royalties — from commercial music and imagery.

Mr. Hurley was surrounded by curious media executives at Allen & Company’s annual Sun Valley mogulfest in July. They wondered: friend or foe? Is he earnestly working to make YouTube and its exuberant users conform to the existing standards of copyright law and contractual obligations? Or is he cynically flouting the law to enable YouTube to grow rapidly, calculating that he will be able to cut a more advantageous deal later, or perhaps sell the company to someone else who will be able to sort through the mess of liabilities?

In an interview this week, Mr. Hurley, not surprisingly, portrayed himself as mainly trying to improve the site for its users while working to find arrangements that will satisfy Hollywood.

“There’s going to be bumps along the way, but we’re trying to make an effort to make the new model work for everyone,” he said. “We’ve been developing features and working on the problem. I don’t think we have been just sitting back and just buying fancy furniture.”

YouTube has started to attract mainstream advertisers and the site has become financially stable, Mr. Hurley said, despite the huge cost of showing more than 100 million video clips a day. Potentially most significant, Mr. Hurley pointed to a deal signed recently with Warner Music that he hopes will be a model for dealing with Hollywood and record companies from now on. YouTube is developing technology that will identify Warner music used in a video that is uploaded. When the site plays those videos, it will share some of its advertising revenue with Warner and others with copyrighted material that is used.

Moreover, Mr. Hurley says, there is much more to YouTube than piracy. And professionals are creating programs specifically for YouTube: the recent series of clips posted under the name Lonelygirl15, for example, showed an actress pretending to be a disaffected teenager.

Others are not so sure. Doug Morris, the chief executive of the Universal Music Group, said at an investor conference recently that YouTube and MySpace, the social networking site, “are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars.”

And Mark Cuban, who founded, an early Internet video site that was bought by Yahoo, argued on his blog that YouTube did not have a viable business other than piracy.

“It is absolutely reminiscent of Napster,” Mr. Cuban said in an interview. “It’s nice that they say ‘it’s different this time,’ but it’s not.”

So fucking what?

If Morris thinks he's going to get a dime, I want to know what drugs he uses. Napster was an unmittigated disaster for the music industry and iTunes has placed control of digital music in the hands of a computer company. So now you have a totally unregulated market in digital music, a slight fraction of that run by Apple, and the music industry nearly totally cut out of it. They can't even set prices.

So are we going to have the same thing repeated with You Tube, only to have it replaced by the Yung Ling video collective, from China and where your copyright laws mean nothing. The fact is that copyright law is rigged to benefit the rich, so that average users just don't care about it. The companies can whine about copyright law all day long, but You Tube is their best chance to get paid something.

Because the next iteration of You Tube won't be in the US and will never pay you a dime.

posted by Steve @ 12:36:00 AM

12:36:00 AM

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