Want to check out your favorite YouTube video again? Can’t find it on the YouTube site any more? Perhaps it’s one of the 100,000 video clips set to be removed from the YouTube site at the request of Viacom.
YouTube was bought by Google for $1.65 billion in November of 2006 and it soon began the process of settling disputes with content providers. A variety of media corporations, both foreign and domestic, had made claims against YouTube before Google realized the need that compensation in the form of dollars was necessary. Before that, YouTube executives held the view that the attraction of its ‘passionate viewers’ to media producer’s content was sufficient compensation in itself. In other words, just having your tv program, music video, or other visual content on YouTube was a coup which would gain millions of viewers you didn’t previously have.
That point of view would make some sense if only it wasn’t for those nasty copyright laws which we all have to follow. One of the problems is that the technology was so fast-growing that it emerged in a kind of raucous wild-west environment where anything goes and usually did. People pirated entire series episodes and posted them on YouTube so that people could catch up or watch a program for the first time. But now the novelty has worn off a bit. Viacom wants to be paid for its clips of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, posted by undetermined users. The inability to recognize and sort out copyrighted sources of film and music video had been a major problem with YouTube from its earliest days when it was founded in the proverbial ‘garage’ by a couple of former PayPal employees.
Viacom also owns MTV, VH1, Paramount, and Nickelodeon as well as Comedy Central. The pirating and posting of its voluminous video and audio productions is seen as scant compensation to Viacom executives. Viacom execs expressed their views in interviews with New York’s Wall Street Journal and the San Jose Mercury News, not far from Google’s San Bruno headquarters. The view expressed was that Google and YouTube were making a lot of money from ‘lifted’ content, without sharing those revenues with the artists, writers, and other creators who produced it.
Yet Google Chief executive Eric Schmidt notes that YouTube is making deals with some of companies making claims against it. CBS Corporation and NBC Universal had successful negotiations for use of their content. Indeed, Viacom hoped to reach a similar accord with Google-YouTube before their negotiations broke down.
Another unhappy customer is News Corp’s 20th Century Fox which is reported by the San Jose Mercury News to have had its lawyers subpoena YouTube. 20th Century Fox wants YouTube to reveal the identity of the person who uploaded stolen copies of recent episodes of ’24’.
Hey wait, I think I missed that episode!
Sources: San Jose Mercury News; Wall Street Journal