YouTube is the site for video on the web today, and it seems that its recent acquisition by the deep pocketed Google has put it on some copyright holders’ hit list. Namely Viacom, who just two days ago launched a billion dollar lawsuit against Google for
unauthorized use of its copyrighted entertainment.
Viacom’s move seems to me to be a fear-based, knee-jerk reaction. It’s indicative of a very backward and arcane way of thinking, à-la RIAA. What part of prosecuting your enthusiastic fan base makes any sort of marketing sense? Their copyrighted material appearing on a service like YouTube isn’t a nefarious plot by unsavory people to steal their money. It’s the result of fans seeking more access to Viacom products, and sharing it with friends–and strangers–who may never have otherwise been exposed to that content. It’s free, viral publicity! Other companies pay stupid amounts of money for that kind of exposure, Viacom wants to shut it down.
I think there’s a much better way of dealing with the YouTube phenomenon. Rather than try to remove them, Viacom should post the clips themselves–ensuring the quality of the content–while Google arranges to place preferentially positioned, context sensitive Viacom advertising, free of charge, in exchange for the right to display the clips. In fact, rather than even try to host their own videos on their own disparate set of sites, which nowhere near as many people visit anyway, they should just strike a deal to host all of their video on branded YouTube pages. After all, that’s where everyone is, and that’s where they’re all checking out the latest Daily Show clip–not on the Daily Show website.
Read more from the archive.