Monday, September 18, 2006

The problem with YouTube

Mark Cuban nails it in his post, "The Coming Dramatic Decline of Youtube":
The fact that Youtube is building a traffic juggernaut around copyrighted audio and video without being sued is like.... well Napster at the beginning as the labels were trying to figure out what it meant to them. ... It's just a question of when Youtube will be hit with a charge of inducing millions of people to break copyright laws, not if.

Take away all the copyrighted material and you take away most of Youtube's traffic. Youtube turns into a hosting company with a limited video portal. Like any number of competitors out there that decided to follow copyright law.
I like YouTube, don't get me wrong. I think they did a great job making it easy to upload and view videos on the Web.

But, I don't think ease of use is the reason most people use YouTube. I suspect most people go to YouTube to view copyright content. Nothing attracts an audience like giving away something that normally costs money for free.

Like Napster, YouTube probably owes much of its success to playing fast and loose with copyright law. Like Napster, they likely will find that it is not sustainable.

[Found via John Battelle]

Update: A nice follow-up post on this by Don Dodge.

Update: Another good post from Mark Cuban on YouTube. [via Don Dodge]


Anonymous said...

I think there's one major difference when comparing Napster and Youtube. While comparing MP3- to CD-quality is something for audiophils, the video-quality on youtube is so bad it hurts the eye.

Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree. I don't doubt that youtube is full of "commercial" footage, but the ONLY material I ever view there is "home made". There is a strong chance that the people uploading this material are the copyright holders and hence are allowed to post the films as they see fit. Seriously, why would I want to watch a grainy star-trek rip? I don't, it is widely available in high quality formats (legal and otherwise). The real value of youtube is the community content, which is unique and entertaining. Compare to the sacred output of the major networks, "unique" would be a strech and "entertaining" even more so.

Joe Goldberg said...

I agree with anonymous, and here's a page to back us up:

Those are the all time most popular youtube videos. I'm not an expert on their content, but I only see a few blatent copyright violations: A clip from the movie Napoleon Dynamite, and a couple music videos. The rest are home grown, and probably break no copyright laws.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with Anonymous.

Youtube clearly has thousands of copyrighted videos which are greatly in demand. Why not just type in the name of a show on tv and see what comes up? You will be proven wrong. There are many shows on there which are split into parts, so you watch one part, then load the other one while you watch so it's ready for you when you need it. The reason people use it for these purposes is because for some more niche shows, they are unavailable on DVD or torrent. For example, Russell Brand's 'RE:Brand'. That is not available on DVD, yet it's all available on YouTube.

I don't really find this to be an important issue though, as piracy is a good thing. If I like a film I download, I will buy it anyway to reward them for making it. If I don't like it, I won't have paid money which I can't get refunded to see Hollywood tripe.

YouTube is just another example of how the Internet is becoming increasingly unhealthy and encouraging people of all ages (most worryingly impressionable younger people) to spend all their time online and not get out in the world. It's the kind of thing which really should be suited to older people who can't get out, not young people who should be out in the world learning about life and seeing amazing sights.

I defy anyone to tell me how it's better to sit on a PC on the internet all day, than to go out and see a beautiful moutainside or a valley. Hell, or even just go to the pub!

There is something very unnerving about the kind of power the Internet has over people. It's almost like heavy users of it are in a cult of some sort. Zombies?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if copyright infringement is as bad as insider trading? Just wondering...