Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So millions of YouTubers around the world are waking up today to find out that their Internet presence is being threatened.

Viacom, it seems, wants to sue YouTube for $1 billion on the grounds that it "harnessed technology to willfully infringe copyrights on a huge scale" and had "brazen disregard" of intellectual property laws."

That is of course, willfull rubbish. YouTube does no such thing, and a brief glance of the ToS will confirm that. And last time I looked, I had to sign away my life confirming that I owned the copyrights to the material I was uploading. And YouTube says it removes unauthorised content as soon as it is notified.

There are some things to comment on here. Firstly, have you noticed that Viacom have only decided to sue since Google bought YouTube last November? I think that will give you a very clear idea of what Viacom's real motivations are.

Secondly, Viacom seem to think it is Google's job to find the unauthorised content off its own bat and remove it. Excuse me, how is Google supposed to know who owns what content? That's like saying car manufacturers are responsible for bank robberies committed in cars made for them.

The fact of the matter is that Viacom has an outdated business model and is trying to destroy the technology that is threatening them. Sure, they're selling stuff through iTunes. But have they sat down and thought about how to harness the Internet themselves? No, they're luddites, trying to burn the machines or claim compensation from the makers of the machines.

Move with the times guys. The fact of the matter is that youTube is used by millions of people who daily upload personal movies. It is impossible for anyone to view every upload, and much of it is such crap you wouldn't want to sit through it. ("Asshole running into the sea" is an example that immediately springs to mind.) However, Viacom sues Google for the infringements rather than the individuals who upload stolen material, because Google is rich and an easy target. Don't go after the robbers; car manufacturers are a much easier target.

Personally, I'm interested in what the YouTube community will have to say about this. I doubt that they will sit back quietly. I suspect some of the better movies on the subject may make the network news of the larger TV stations. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be a huge backlash that will have a negative impact on Viacom and possibly even sink it.

I guess it won't be too long before I found out.