I suppose it was only a matter of time before YouTube began to suck balls. As cool as it is to be able to watch so many great (and not-so-great) videos for free, you always wondered, a) how a company could possibly make any money serving that many videos free of charge, and b) how long a company could get away with such massive copyright infringement.
[(Vaguely) Interesting Fact: YouTube is apparently run out of an apartment that sits above both an Italian and a Japanese restaurant. Imagine how that must smell. How do I know this? Because the Wikipedia entry for YouTube features a photo of what's alleged to be the company's headquarters. On a semi-related note, I wrote a story earlier today about ethnic restaurants that you might find interesting.]
Now comes word that YouTube is signing big deals with record labels like Warner Bros., Universal, and Sony, and is also in talks with Google about being purchased outright by the Internets search giant.
On the one hand, I’m sure there are plenty of obvious benefits to these recent developments. For example, say for an instance I decide on some random, let’s say, Monday afternoon to stroke it to the strangely attractive models in the video for the Gin Blossoms’ “Till I Hear It From You.” Now I no longer have to worry about finding out that said video has been removed due to copyright violation and hence having to find something else to do for the next 15 minutes or so.
15 minutes later…
Similarly, there was always a certain threat that the secret cabal of tall Israelis who run the music industry would eventually opt to sue YouTube into oblivion, thus taking away arguably the Internets’ best site for hosting videos as well as one of the best outlets for so much user-generated content – including everything from clips of lonely Asian men lip synching to the Backstreet Boys (no Boutros) to videos by the legions of artists deemed unworthy to be played in the half an hour or so a day that MTV now devotes to playing music videos.
That said, YouTube getting in bed with the major record labels and TV networks as well as – possibly – Google obviously raises its own share of issues. The articles I’ve read on the deals YouTube is striking all note that the eventual plan is to a) load YouTube down with content (i.e. commercials) created by these companies, and b) develop technology to automatically root out unauthorized use of content owned by them. (Imagine a room full of Chinese with a list of major label artists, but much more efficient.)
From what I understand, the plan is to create revenue streams that will allow the major labels, TV networks, film studios and what have you (i.e. like three companies), if not necessarily the artists themselves, to benefit financially from user-generated content that incorporates elements of copyrighted works. But you have to assume that these corporations have no intent on authorizing the use of copyrighted works for user-generated content that could pose any sort of threat to interests of the copyright holders themselves, i.e. major corporations.
Similarly, you have to be concerned for the fate of pornography on YouTube. They’re already pretty strict about videos that feature any nudity as is, but you can still find plenty of clips on the site that are completely stroke-worthy. Or so I’ve been told. Imagine the likelihood of the Viacom corporation allowing web cam striptease videos created by 15-year-old girls to run alongside TV commercials for shit like Dora the Explorer and the shitty, sanitized version of Daria they show on the Noggin Network.