YouTube, Digg, Wikipedia: Can Web 2.0 play hardball?

Web 2.0 users, and others in the Web 2.0 community, seem to be pursuing their own “selfish
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
Tim O'Reilly says, in his 2005 treatise “What is Web 2.0?”:

The architecture of the Internet, and the World Wide Web, as well as of open source software projects like Linux, Apache, and Perl, is such that users pursuing their own 'selfish' interests build collective value as an automatic byproduct.

Web 2.0 users, and others in the Web 2.0 community, seem to be pursuing their own “selfish” interests more and more.

The end product sought, however, aims for individual value, or corporate value, rather than for "collective value."


While YouTube has been celebrating its 100 million videos served daily milestone, many in the Web 2.0 community have been campaigning to discourage people from uploading videos to YouTube.

In “Now playing on YouTube? “Coke and Mentos” vs. “Lazy Sunday,” I present “do not post to YouTube” campaigns:

Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, the not-quite-amateur creators of the video clip viral sensation “Diet Coke and Mentos,” have posted a message at their Website: 'Please do not post our videos on sites like YouTube and Google.'

The video team is going the 'videos powered by REVVER' route and is being championed by many in the Web 2.0 community for standing up for their copyright.

zefrank also has posted 'please DO NOT upload these movies to YouTube or any other VID hosting site' and in his July 27 'show'…references the possible 'death of YouTube.'

Anti-uploading to YouTube campaigns appear to include misinterpretations of YouTube’s Terms of Service (TOS).

In “YouTube vs. Revver, controlling and monetizing content” I discuss how YouTube’s TOS are actually more favorable than Revver’s TOS, to copyright holders in the long-term:

Revver calls its license ‘perpetual,’ ‘royalty-free’ and ‘irrevocable.’

YouTube, however, limits the term of its license and says:

‘The foregoing license granted by you terminates once you remove or delete a User Submission from the YouTube Website.’

In response to my analysis of the Revver TOS, Revver has revised its TOS, as it reports at its blog:

Donna Bogatin from ZDnet …suggests that Revver’s Terms of Service might be less content-creator-friendly than those of YouTube.

Bogatin asserts that our terms require content owners to license their content to Revver on a perpetual, royalty-free basis, not subject to revocation…

This license includes some language that suggests the rights you grant us are perpetual and irrevocable.

Rather than debate a legal analysis of our contracts, we have - effective immediately - revised our terms to eliminate any ambiguity.

Even with Revver's revisions to its TOS, both YouTube and Revver appear to provide the same degree of copyright protections to content owners.

I postulate on why fans of the Revver service are campaigning against use of YouTube in “YouTube vs. Revver, controlling and monetizing content”: "Perhaps 'amateur' video enthusiasts are predisposed to favor Revver’s TOS as they may be enamored of Revver’s presumably content creator focused revenue share model."

Grobe and Voltz are focused on revenue concerns and deem YouTube to be facilitating hosting of ‘bootleg'” copies of their video clip. They assert they have calculated their “losses” due to YouTube.

CNET reports:

Voltz is an attorney…and a rather irked man who believes the unauthorized appearance of the Mentos clip on YouTube and other sites cost him money--$28,000, to be exact.

The losses are equal to what Voltz and partner Fritz Grobe made by posting their clip at the video-sharing site Revver, which shares advertising revenue with clip makers…

The number would have been twice as high had fans not posted copies of the video on Google Video and YouTube, which siphoned traffic away from Revver, Voltz claimed.

Copyright and trademark protections are a double-edged sword, however. The Grobe and Voltz current fame stems from their use of corporate intellectual property: Coke and Mentos brands. Should Grobe and Voltz pay royalties to Coke and Mentos for the revenue-generating use of their brands?


Kevin Rose at Digg finds himself in a direct battle with Jason Calacanis at Netscape.

I discuss the competition in “Digg vs. Netscape, Kevin vs. Jason, Web 2.0 vs. commercial Internet”:

Rose is synonymous with Digg and Calacanis is now synonymous with Netscape.

Rose’s rise to prominence reflects what I call the “20-something weekend software developer” Web 2.0 start-up route (see “Web 2.0 financial success: Easy as 'two weeks and $700 bucks'?” and “Memo to Web 2.0 VCs: What happened to Doriot's rules?”)

Calacanis’ prominence reflects years of street-wise, business savvy targeting of the entrepreneurial 'brass ring.'

Rose champions a 'pure' social Web 2.0, Calacanis champions a 'pure' commercial Internet.

Rose posted an open letter to Calacanis yesterday:

‘Ya see users like Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit and Flickr because they are contributing to true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations.’

Calacanis wrote earlier:

‘Of course, the Web 2.0 elite want to make the decision for social bookmarkers–and for me and my company Netscape. How dare we offer people money for their work?!?!!? How dare these people get paid for their time!??!’

In “Digg at risk: ‘Social A Listers’ poached by Netscape” I report:

Powerhouse AOL is wielding its financial muscle and business savvy to bolster its newly redesigned 'Digg-like' Netscape.com portal by poaching 'three of the top 12 DIGG users.'


In “Social freeloaders: Is there a collective wisdom and can the Web obtain it?” I discuss how Wikipedia “warns those consulting Wikipedia as an ‘encyclopedia’ about the dangers of misinformation and vandalism at the site.”

The ease of spreading such misinformation and committing such vandalism at Wikipedia was demonstrated on the public air waves earlier this week.

CNET reports:

Stephen Colbert claims he has no qualms with Wikipedia. ‘I love Wikipedia,’ he said during the July 31 episode of his Comedy Central show "The Colbert Report," adding that ‘any site that's got a longer entry on 'truthiness' than on Lutherans has its priorities straight.’ Colbert…found the free-for-all encyclopedia to be a perfect fit for his fact-despising, spin-loving character. ‘You see, any user can change any entry, and if enough other users agree with them, it becomes true,’ he explained, proceeding to eradicate all references to George Washington owning slaves.

Nevertheless, Wikipedia might not return Colbert's affection after he suggested to his viewers in the same episode that they replace "reality" (frequently maligned on the "Report") with a user-created ‘wikiality’ where something is true if enough people believe it. Consequently, he recommended that his viewers begin by changing the article for ‘elephant’ to say that the population of African elephants has tripled in the past six months… that didn't stop rabid Colbert fans from crashing Wikipedia's servers. (Of course, Wikipedia claimed the bandwidth overload was wholly unrelated to anything involving ‘truthiness’ or ‘wikiality.’) As of the next morning, editing privileges on virtually every page related to either elephants or "The Colbert Report" was still ‘semi-protected,’ meaning that only established registered users could edit it.

YouTube, Digg, Wikipedia: Can Web 2.0 play hardball in its own defense?


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