This case seems to be the one that is going to set the precedent for all video
online for years to come. Your spoofs,
your original material and all the videos you created that use copyrighted material
will face outcome of Viacom’s suit.
There is no
question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take the fruit of our, the creators, labor without permission and destroying our enormous value in the process. The content
that rightfully belongs to the writers, directors and talent who
create it and companies like Viacom, NBC or smaller content distribution channels
that have invested and made a solid business model that rewards the best creative with a living is merely trying to defend our rights.
The other side of the story is that YouTube, has moved the video market forward
faster than any other player, and that high risk game is ultimately good for
users. But good for users will not
determine the law. Just as “good for
users” did not help the cause of Napster. It seems to be the same showdown that happened when the music industry
came down on Napster.
For those of you that have been living under a rock here is the skinny:
YouTube is facing a $1 billion+ lawsuit from Viacom. It was known that
YouTube would eventually face at least one major lawsuit, and Viacom - which
had already pulled 100,000 clips from the site, was perhaps the most likely to
take a distaste to the company.
Viacom is accusing YouTube of “massive intentional copyright infringement”,
saying that 160,000 unauthorized Viacom clips have been uploaded onto YouTube,
totaling more than 1.5 billion views. In truth, the “more than $1 billion”
figure sounds a little low: typically these companies seek the maximum sum of
$150,000 per infringement.
So if you follow the letter of the law, Viacom is right. However, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS and NBC
were all incredibly slow to innovate and if not for YouTube we would still be
watching video in Reel player or a Windows Media player. A hardy thank you goes out to YouTube for
helping realize the potential of flash and video.
On this Labor Day, a day that celebrates the American worker, we the American creators should
remember the importance of original content and original thought. We should use YouTube
for its intended use which was to facilitate a global
video conversation. YouTube can be a
place where creators go to distribute their material but remember that your are not benefiting from it. Google the mega
corporation has yet to figure out how to pay creators for their original thought.
I look forward to the day when companies like blip.tv and current.tv which are companies who reward creators by giving them a way to make money, get the market share they so rightfully deserve.