Will YouTube 'King Hurley' really share video riches?

What is the true state of the YouTube kingdom?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor

YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley & Steve Chen celebrated their $1.65 billion buyout by Google in a giddy “broadcast yourself” YouTube clip culture video proclaiming the joining together of two Internet “kings.”

The two kings are currently being feted on the international stage at The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2007 convened in Davos, Switzerland.

As I put forth in “Google at Davos: Eric Schmidt helps set global agenda,” Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Google, is co-chair, Google, Inc. is a “Strategic Partner” and Google apparently helped set the Annual Meeting's agenda.

As befits the stature of world “kings,” their every public word is feasted on as if royal edict.

Jeff Jarvis gives us one minute and twenty seven seconds of “King Hurley’s” off-the-cuff remarks on the state of the “YouTube Kingdom” in what appears to be an elevator bank at Davos:

We have been the most proactive in terms of addressing these issues.

One of our recent announcements, we are developing technology, we are implementing audio fingerprinting, we will be able to identify the music that people are using in their videos, when this music is identified, the labels will be notified they’ll have the ability to claim that content and generate revenue against that piece of video content, and then the user has a free and legal way to be creative, its really opening up a market that didn’t exist before. Music that people would mix to videos…with our platform they will have a new market opportunity to generate revenue with that material.

In terms of paying users revenue against the content that they are uploading, we are definitely going to move in that direction, but we didn’t want to build a system that was motivated by monetary reward…when you start out by giving money to people from day one…they will just switch to the next provider that’s paying more, we feel we are at a scale now that we are able to do that and really still have a true community around video.

How generous will Google’s YouTube kingdom really be?

Should YouTubers take Hurley at his word? What about “the labels”? And where do the TV networks and movie studios stand, given Hurley did not include them in his royal pronouncement?

Just days before Google formally took over the reigns of YouTube, I heard Suzie Reider, CMO YouTube, declare she wouldn’t let marketers go “messing-up” Hurley’s vaunted YouTube community (see “YouTube on marketers: Won’t be ‘messing it up’”).

Although Reider did not define what “messing-up” YouTube would entail, Google rang in YouTube’s New Year by allowing brand marketer Chevrolet to “take over” the YouTube homepage (see “Google + Chevrolet: ‘Have a YouTube New Year!’” and “Why Google wants YouTube independent”).

Even if YouTube eventually does offer some type of revenue-sharing scheme to video uploaders, YouTubers do not stand to share big-time in the YouTube riches.

I asked last October: “Web 2.0 rev share models: new democratic economy or pipe dream?”:

In “Revver: advertiser-driven videos?” I discuss the latest trend in Web 2.0 start-ups: acquiring royalty-free user-generated content via promises of future remuneration.

Revver attracts amateur content uploads due to its seemingly pro-creator stance. The overwhelming majority of video enthusiasts uploading content to Revver with expectations of fortune, however, will undoubtedly be disappointed.

The advertiser-centric reality of Revver’s business model, coupled with its Pay Per Ad Click pricing model, yields little “action” for the typical amateur video fare.

Policing copyright: Has YouTube really been proactive in protecting content owners' rights as Hurley claims? 

YouTube’s DMCA content modus operandi is inherently reactive and enables a “community” environment fostering the notion that video is free for the taking and uploading.

Where is YouTube’s audio fingerprinting technology that was promised for December 2006 (see “NBC to YouTube: Video removal request game to end”)?

Does Google not have the financial and technological resources to keep its copyright protection word?

I underscored earlier this week in “Google’s YouTube: Who are the broadcasters?”:

Google is proud that it has “chosen to ignore conventional wisdom in designing its business.”

Perhaps it would be best for all parties involved, however, if $150 billion market cap Google started playing by good “old-fashioned” content licensing rules, instead of trying to skirt by on a DMCA and fair-use powered no-fee required content acquisition business model.

TAKE THE POLL: Is YouTube really a $1.65 billion Web 2.0 success?


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