Google YouTube: Holding content owners hostage?

The Google YouTube marriage joins together two firms which drive billions: billions of dollars in advertising revenues and billions in downloads of “clip culture.” The union of what the YouTube team calls “two kings” also unites two companies relying on shrewd, free-content based business models.
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
The Google YouTube marriage joins together two firms which drive billions: billions of dollars in advertising revenues and billions in downloads of “clip culture.” The union of what the YouTube team calls “two kings” also unites two companies relying on shrewd, free-content based business models. 

In “Google YouTube copyright ’safe harbor’ marriage” I posit that the merger is based, in part, on “copyright compatibility” and cite the joint conference call announcement:

YouTube mentioned technology filtering capabilities under development—audio fingerprinting and meta data searching—but Google pointed out that the two companies share the same “safe harbor” approach to copyright “protection” (copyright infringement safety?).


In “Google, YouTube: multi-billion dollar “fair-use” risky bets” last month I  underscored the similarity of the firms’ aggressive reliance on the “fair-use doctrine:

“The “fair-use” doctrine is critical to Google’s multi-billion dollar business and to YouTube’s hoped for billion dollar valuation.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt proudly waves the “fair-use” flag in defense of Google’s mission to obtain all the world’s content for free and YouTube directs its online copyright agnostic volunteer army of video uploaders to “fair-use” Websites.

Both Google and YouTube rely on a Web 2.0 crowd pleasing “content must be set freed” stance to garner public support for their self-aggrandizing business models based on obtaining, exploiting, controlling, owning and monetizing others’ content cost-free and on a calculated disregard for certain copyright owners’ rights over their own content.

Google and YouTube are so inordinately beloved that any time a content owner dare to suggest that it may stand up for its legal rights in a way that risks spoiling the Google YouTube multi-billion dollar free-ride party, verbal wrath is unleashed.

John Battelle in “Sour Grapes: Time To SueTube?” on Time Warner’s talk of copyright infringement claims:

Time Warner not only owns a shitload of content that is now playing on YouTube, it also owns AOL, and with it the self-inflicted wounds which came from buying AOL, or rather, buying into the idea of AOL back when it had its mid-life crisis of confidence about its own ability to execute in that wooly digital world, that late 90s coke binge where it seemed everyone in California was poised to kick Time Warner's collective ass. Thank God, it turned out to be wrong....for a few years, anyway.

But now, the problem is back, and it's much more serious, at least, it's serious if you're committed to your old ways of doing business. And for those who are afraid of the future, its name is Google. Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons is in a tought spot - he knows that disparaging dismissals of the upstarts will no longer suffice.

Google still an “up-start”? HARDLY

Content licensing fees an “old” way of doing business? UNFORTUNATELY

Afraid of a future whose name is “Google”? YES

Battelle’s post inspired two thoughtful counter comments.


I don't know, John. Copyrights have their place; if people where selling copies of your book and pocketing the profits would you say, "Ah, that is just the new way of doing business." I think you would throw some shots too, no?

Basically, I think most youtubers want free shit, and cool shit, and they will enjoy whatever is there. IF TW media is not shown, so be it. Will they boycott or make any effort to get back at TW . . . that I think takes too much thought. Why spend your time doing that when there is so much cool shit to watch? I doubt most users will have any beef with TW for a lawsuit. The bloggers will do their thing, but I really do not think most people feel much allegiance to Google or Youtube, particularly while they rake in billions of dollars. How can you feel sorry for 20 and 30 something billionaires who at least so far, do not seem to give much back (though they may some day). If Google/Youtube is somehow different than TW, and feel they deserve more respect and allegiance from users, I do not think they have proven it yet. I do think they are better, but not enough to get people very stirred about a lawsuit in my view.


I have to agree with Soreng. Most youtubers want free s**t.

I just got finished listening to a recent IT Conversations podcast, a session from the 2005 Web 2.0 conference entitled "What Teens Want". In fact, I think you (John) introduced the session. (I wasn't there myself, so apologies to all for whom this is old hat.)

And the takeaway from the interview with these five teenagers was that the two things they wanted from people building next gen services was (1) "more free stuff", and (2) fewer ads. Ads were really starting to piss some of these teens off. And all but one girl (if I remember correctly) had not paid for a single piece of media online. The one girl who had paid had only bought 10 iTunes songs, and had 1490 other copied/downloaded ones. Every other kid either ripped tunes from their friends or used bittorrent.

So YouTube came along and gave them more free stuff. They got half of what they want. But is Google now going to come along and give them fewer ads? I don't think so. And you think that is going to endear Google to these kids? When they see "Ads by Gooooooooogle" at the beginning of each video clip? The kids don't care about the brand. They just want free stuff.

Copyright itself is basically good, but using it to bash people is not. And DRM is particularly, insidiously evil, and it needs to die. But you don't combat DRM and copyright abuses by throwing up massive-scale YouTubian piracy, setting a block on your shoulder, and saying, "so sue me!" Escalation is not the solution.

(Funny thing is, I've spoken with high-ranking insiders at Google over the years about this copyright issue, and what is happening now completely contradicts everything they've told me. I'm really amazed by this complete about-face that we're seeing right now. I really wonder what sort of internal discussions Google has been having lately, if everyone is in agreement or if there is a lot of debate right now about this whole move.)

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