I have been following the story of Progress Illinois, a group that has posted a number of videos that criticize FoxNews and, under the well-accepted legal concept of fair-use, include clips of the FoxNews programs in question.
The YouTube account had been taken down following multiple DMCA takedown notices from Fox, leading YouTube to institute its usual policy of shutting such accounts down. Progress Illinois sent a counternotice, and after Fox failed to sue the activist group, the account was turned back on. Paul Alan Levy points us to some more troubling details about the discussions between Progress Illinois and Fox. Apparently, Fox sought to have Progress Illinois waive its fair use rights on all future Fox material and demanded that it be allowed to run ads on the Progress Illinois site in exchange for allowing the content to be placed on YouTube. On top of this, Levy notes that Fox is apparently preparing a deal with another video site (that will include its desired ads), which Fox will apparently demand sites use in reporting on Fox News reports.
In support of Progress Illinois, embedded below is one of their videos including a FoxNews clip. Hey Fox, why don’t you come after me, too? I’m just itching to counter-sue someone…
Much has been made about the YouTube deal with Seth “Family Guy” McFarlane in which Seth creates VERY short, occassionally funny animated pieces and they are combined with a McFarlane-esque pre-roll ad (this time from Priceline) and distributed via Googles video ad network.
This seems to be working pretty well for them in terms of overall views but I find the presentation to be, well, a total ripoff.
As an example, check out this episode:
If you were paying attention you might have noticed that the pre-roll ad was about 20 seconds and the actual cartoon was also about 20 seconds. That’s a pretty crappy ratio of sales to original content. It doesn’t help that the original content is just kinda funny, if that.
I can’t imagine this is a format that will work for most online webseries. While people do whatever they can to avoid ads on TV they are not going to put up with having to sit through an ad that is as long as the program they wanted to see in the first place online.
As YouTube has expanded it’s offering to video posters, some video posters are getting pretty damn creative AND smart.
A new (probably short-lived) YouTube sensation is a clever re-imagining of StreetFighter using the “annotations” feature to turn it into a sort of “choose-your-own-adventure” and as NewTeeVee says, it’s paying off big-time.
Uploaded last week, YouTube Street Fighter videos have already garnered well over 5 million views, and counting. That’s not just due to gamer nostalgia over the coin arcade classic, or because it’s currently featured on YouTube’s home page. A lot of the views are generated by the way the videos were made.
Aside from being clever, the way in which the videos are linked creates an incredible number of views. This is great for YouTube and the video producer who are collecting a pretty outrageous CPM:
After the first week it went online, Boivin told me by email, the videos had earned him $5,000 in YouTube advertising revenue.
Unfortunately, it is a total ripoff for the advertiser as viewers spend 10-30 seconds on each page and there is barely time for an ad to pop up, let alone be seen and absorbed. So, while I totally applaud the creativity and the cashification I wonder how advertisers will be responding…
Two stories caught my attention, both of which add evidence to the idea that giving your content away for free can actually increase your overall potential for montization – or as I like to say, Cashification.
First, Mashable has some follow-up to Monty Python’s innovative approach to combatting pirated clips on YouTube – they made their own YouTube channel where they posted everything they’d ever done for free. They also provided links to the actual DVDs and CDs for sales at Amazon and iTunes. Can you guess what happened next?
Monty Python’s DVDs climbed to No. 2 on Amazon’s Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent.
Still not convinced. How about this from TechDirt in their story about idpendent musician Coery Smith, who both offers his music for download free on his own site and for money via iTunes:
However, as an experiment, they took down the free tracks from Corey’s website for a period of time last summer… and sales on iTunes went down. Once again, this proves how ridiculous the claim is that free songs somehow cannibalize sales.
The fact that there are so many stories like these makes it ever more difficult to accept the current business practices of the major music labels and studios. While they spend more time and money on hunting down and prosecuting their one-time customers their current customers are running our of patience and will jump ship, too.
HBO, which has a completely obsolete business model at the moment, took a shot at relevance by securing the exclusive rights to film and air Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball.
Now, via TechDirt, comes word that HBO is attempting to force the takedown of personal videos posted on YouTube that were shot by regular folks lucky enough to be in attendance last night.
The majority of these videos seem to be short clips shot on cellphones and it is pretty hard to imagine how their presence online could harm HBO’s “exclusive” rights. Nobody is going to watch those videos as a replacement for HBO’s professionally shot and produced video nor will anyone mistake those videos for the work of HBO.
Not only is it just plain mean to attempt to stop folks from sharing their personal looks into a major historical moment but it makes HBO look bad. Considering how few reasons there are to pay for HBO, you’ve got to wonder why they would risk web backlash…unless they were blind and ignorant when it comes to New Media.
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.