I've been trying to come up with thoughts relevant to YouTube's cease-and-desist letter to TechCrunch's Michael Arrington.
The letter, which comes via YouTube's legal counsel and which Mike reacts to and reproduces this morning, is a cease-and-desist. In no uncertain terms, it demands that Mike take down a YouTube Video Download Tool, a small TechCrunch program that enables users to download YouTube videos to their PCs.
The utility, which is screen-capped above, can even enable iPods as an ultimate destination.
I believe that YouTube is being incredibly short-sighted.
I don't see how this harmless little app does anything but promote YouTube as a destination for these types of downloads. Show me where this app-which contains no YouTube logos- violates YT's TOS.
I also believe that YouTube is being overly close-systemed. Numerous other companies embrace or at least tolerate developers of third-party plug-ins. Skype, for one. Google, for another.
Mike's little app isn't exactly a plug-in, so much as an enhancer to what is already there.
Why can't YouTube realize this?
As to Google, I can't dismiss the notion that this action pre-dates Google's ownership of the video sharing site.
What's even more likely is that YouTube attorneys- a very valued bunch especially considering the sheer volume of lawsuits YouTube may be facing- feels it is important to play offense as well as defense. Whether acting with or without Google's assent, YouTube's attorneys have been thrust into a litigious environment, and breathing that air, have become more litigious themselves.
I'm all for YouTube standing up for themselves. If someone illegally downloads YT videos and then reposts them on their own site, well, that's over the line.
But how is what Mike and TechCrunch are doing with this little app over the line?
YouTube, you are making yourselves look petty. Call off the dogs- I mean, lawyers.