According to the Wall Street Journal, YouTube has
double pinky swore to Warner Brothers that it will implement some kind of
technology in order to credit Warner artists will royalties based on music
played on its submitted videos. The deal will surely be the first among many the
big labels will be inking with the likes of YouTube and Google Video.
Although this isn't the first time the free transfer of information has been
attacked (remember Napster v. Metallica?), it's ramifications could have a much
greater reach among the proliferation of "show me" technologies like the posting
of personal videos, pictures and music - many of which include derivative works.
(Another issue [art form] which has been unduly and systematically attacked by
the majors and the RIAA. Remember DJ Danger Mouse and the Grey Album?)
"The new system will give YouTube users a legitimate way to create videos with
soundtracks that use music from Warner artists. (Videos of amateurs' lip syncing
or juggling to popular songs are among the most viewed on video-sharing sites.)
YouTube's system will identify such videos and give Warner a share of the
revenue for any ads that appear alongside these videos, if Warner opts for that
rather than having the videos removed."
Although this agreement will give
YouTube the permission to use Warner properties in "legal" ways, you can't help
wondering how permissive Warner will be now they have affirmed ownership and
will most likely pull any material used in a fashion that they don't approve -
for one reason or another.
But, this isn't a total indictment of the
deal. Even though the agreement sets a dangerous precedent, it can be considered
a progressive move by Warner, one of the "big 5" major record labels. Warner and
YouTube will actually share the revenue produced by ads shown in conjunction
with music videos.
That fact that the RIAA or anyone else attempted to
pull the site down through litigation before this signals that big music is now
starting to "get it", if only a little bit. Only a fool would disregard
YouTube's stellar traffic rankings and the potential as a low cost, MAJOR impact
But sites like YouTube, which are devoid of a solid
business model, cannot survive forced royalties to Warner, let alone when the
other corporate playa haters come calling - EMI, Universal, Sony, BMG [breath]
BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, James Hetfield [breath] Harry Fox. Unfortunately,
user-generated content sites may have to switch to a subscription-type of
service or "pay to post" site which would undoubtedly ruin their web cred and
send eyeballs elsewhere.
In order to get some judgment here we need to
determine whether the sky is indeed falling - that is, whether these lawsuits
will break down the free exchange of ideas across the internet. Fortunately, the
legal maneuverings of big business will only curb (temporarily) this trend
towards personal presentation (adaptation) online. As users we are inherently
more nimble and can change faster than corporations. In other words, keep
adapting, keep changing, keep creating and by all means KEEP SHARING!!!
...and one more thing...
If you have a website featuring streaming video
through a Flash movie, you can also prepend these videos with as many ads as you
like through a digital graft. We can do it. We have the technology. ;-)
About the Author
Some have called Aaron a "new
music philosopher" for his writings on recording industry practices and the
evolution of digital music. A believer in the
Free Music Philosophy as well as a proponent of new industry business
models, Aaron has been a champion of indie artist's rights in the information