Friday, July 18, 2008

The importance of Viacom/Youtube

The Viacom/Youtube case reached an important decision, one that hearkens back to the decision that destroyed Napster in its first form in July of 2001.

The utopian idea that the Internet is a free, limitless area where people can share ideas and files is losing steam to regulation.

Youtube is an Internet company that has not only become popularized due to the airing of user-created clips, but it's also extremely helpful to television shows. Youtube is also popular because people upload clips of random video that you would not have found otherwise. Youtube is the Coca-Cola of Internet video streaming.

People that didn't normally watch a particular show could actually make a show more popular just by looking up and watching particular clips. The clip then makes the rounds on entertainment news and in some cases, the regular news.

However, Viacom in the name of "protecting their brand" has stepped in and is now looking to take Google to task.

Now, much like Napster, these companies knew that the Internet was the future of their business. Why didn't Viacom (and the companies in it such as MTV, VH1, BET, etc.) take it upon themselves to develop Internet streaming capabilities before Youtube got massively popular?

Record labels back in 1999-2000 knew that the Internet would eventually be vital to music in some form, so why didn't they come up with a plan to make music available in a digital form until I-Tunes exploded? 

Youtube and Napster beat those companies to the punch and because those companies don't have much of a say, now they're trying to save face. I feel that this case is very similar to Youtube in that the damage has already been done.

Nobody's really going to go over to MTV's Overdrive to watch clips of The Hills (even with better quality video) because Youtube's brand name is stronger and they got there first. Well, nobody's going to watch The Hills anyway, but that's another story for another time.

Viacom and Youtube came to an agreement, however, I feel that it could still lead to future litigation and other companies could follow suit, effectively killing a major part of what's made Youtube so popular.

I'd like to ask readers what they think about the recent decision and what they go on Youtube for. Don't worry, I'm not trying to get your IP address or your social security number. Yet.

Are you worried that you might get sued by a record label, movie company, or other media conglomerate?

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