YouTube: “Big Copyright’s” Best Friend
Everyone has probably encountered the pervasive error message about a video being removed due to copyright violations on YouTube by now. Of course, there are lots of stories about over-reaching, and being powerless in front of the faceless, corporate behemoth to plead your case. Here’s the latest one I saw:
Last week, he learned that agreements between the Google-owned site and Universal Music Group may have destroyed any chance of reinstating his video on YouTube, no matter how legitimate his case may be.
The thing is, 7 years ago, one of the first dot-com billionaires — who made his money dealing with streaming copyrighted mediea — warned the world that YouTube had a “copyright” problem. I watched and waited (because of a story for another time). There was very little in the way of legal wrangling as YouTube grew, and what little there actually was got put to bed when they were bought by Google.
We can see what happened in hindsight: Google offered both YouTube and the copyright holding companies the ability to programmatically determine if videos were similar — audibly or visibly — to copyrighted works. The technology has been around for a long time to “fingerprint” audio and video. The resources it must take to crawl the astronomical amount of content being posted every day must be staggering, but I digress.
Google rightly proved that they could be one of the very few outlets for free video viewing — assuming incredible bandwidth expenditures — and controlling eyeballs. In return for allowing some copyright violations to occur, they police the egregious offenders — the ones who get tens of millions of hits. It’s an interesting dichotomy of getting people in one door, and then slamming other doors in their faces, all while pushing people into “official” copyright channels like Vevo with their search results.
Rather than need an army of lawyers, like Cuban feared, Google has alleviated that need — not just for YouTube — but also for the copyright clearing houses of both the record companies and movie studios. It’s a win-win.