The YouTube Dilemma – Users vs. Copyright Protection

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There is simply no denying that YouTube is still the most important video-sharing site, at least in the United States.  It is not likely to see this position change much, at least not in the next year.

As YouTube has grown it has been forced to decide if they want to side with the users who have made the site what it is or the rights-holders to a lot the material that users have posted.  More and more, YouTube is siding with rights-holders, even in cases where fair-use can easily be argued.

YouTube is trying to avoid a never-ending string of lawsuits (justified or otherwise) from RIAA, DMCA, et al. with pre-emptive actions against their users.  Unfortunately for both YouTube and its users this means that the site is rapidly becoming a very unfriendly destination for the kinds of “mashup” entertainment that independent video creators and viewers so enjoy.

Here are just a few of the things YouTube will take down and eventually ban users completely for doing:

1) Dancing to a pop song not in the public domain

2) Remixing videos to existing songs not in the public domain

3) Using TV news clips to make a political statement

4) Kids singing Hannah Montana songs at a birthday party

5) Video-collages of Hollywood movies. (like every time they say “fuck” in Pulp Fiction)

The really sad part is that the vast majority of these kinds of videos are completely fair-use but there is no way to argue that with YouTube.  It is also incredibly short-sighted of rights-holders not to understand the intrinsic value of being used and exposed via these kinds of videos.  It is hard to imagine how Warner Music loses money when a teenager lipsyncs to the latest top-ten single.

The end-result will be that people who want to create these types of videos are going to find a new host.  And a smart host could make a good amount of cash providing a legal safe-haven.

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One response to “The YouTube Dilemma – Users vs. Copyright Protection

  1. Pingback: Posts about Mashups and Memes as of January 16, 2009 | The Lessnau Lounge

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