Lots of recent sabre-rattling directed at YouTube, who have come out of nowhere to be the one of the most-trafficked video web sites. In the past couple of weeks, they’ve been hit with a pair of high-profile “get that thing off of your site” letters from uptight copyright holders, making people wonder if they can avoid being tagged the “Video Napster.”
No way, is the tune that the YouTubers are humming, pointing out that they want to be in concert, not conflict with the copyright holders. However, while they don’t have Napster’s hacker-driven “frack all y’all” attitude towards the copyright holders — at least outwardly — they still have to deal with the fact that they currently have a bunch of copyrighted material on their servers.
Which means that they have to deal with a huge Catch-22: the stuff people care about is what drives the traffic, but the stuff people care about is also what might get them in trouble. And while the company might wanna play nice with the corporate copyright overlords, the user base is much closer to the “I wanna share cool stuff” ethos than they are to the “gee, I wonder if that might be an infringment so I’d better not post it” ethos. Being an upstart start-up, the question is going to be how they can stay in the war with Google, Yahoo, iTunes, etc and still retain the cool stuff.
Perhaps by getting the exclusive rights to a couple of hot TV shows? Like, maybe The Family Guy, or 24? And for the more undefinable stuff, maybe work out some kind of blanket license or nano-payment structure for the one-offs or excerpts that clearly belong to a recognizable, litigious copyright holder.