The heavyweights of the media world are lining up in opposition to YouTube, and supporting Viacom’s recent removal of all its clips from the video-sharing service. That removal followed a back-and-forth last fall when Viacom initially asked for clips to be removed, and then went into negotiations with YouTube. Those negotiations turned chilly, and now comes the freeze-out for video clips from MTV and Comedy Central shows such as “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show.”
Here’s a sampling of the media mogul sniping:
“It’s smart for Viacom, who said, ‘Let me be really clear — you’re not gonna take stuff that I made, then massage it and control it for other people.’” — InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller
“YouTube needs to prove that it will implement its filtering technology across its online platform [to remove copyrighted material]. It’s proven it can do it when it wants to. They have the capability. The question is whether they have the will.” — NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker
“The fact of the matter is, without copyright protection, there is no entertainment business. And so we instructed YouTube to remove 100,000 pieces of video from their site. Why? Because they were using it without paying for it. I don’t believe in that. If you want to use us, pay us. Or make a deal with us that is commensurate with the value of our product. Our content has taken years and years to develop, with a lot of hard work. People who want to use it are going to pay us, or good-bye.” — Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone
What’s only slightly weird is that NBC has a co-marketing deal with YouTube, and Viacom’s cousin CBS has an even more wide-ranging deal with YouTube that it has touted in the past as being hugely successful to driving TV ratings. The media companies are in serious conflict — with themselves — over YouTube. While the marketing side of each company salivates at the prospects of going viral on YouTube, the legal and business sides shudder at the video views going to Google/YouTube and not to their own sites. And even with this latest takedown, there’s still the open possibility that Viacom and YouTube will make a deal some time in the future.
So let’s take the Viacom example and try to weigh out the positive and negative of making a deal with YouTube, the 900-pound gorilla of online video:
Why Viacom’s YouTube Take-Down Makes Sense
> Viacom is beefing up their own video offerings, and allowing people to embed the video player code to show clips on their own sites or blogs.
> Viacom cannot allow YouTube and Google to dominate online video completely and dictate the terms of business engagement.
> Viacom has had growing digital revenues, and it doesn’t want to lose a portion of that income to YouTube/Google.
> Viacom wants to control how people use its intellectual property online, and rein in piracy.
Why Viacom’s YouTube Take-Down Is Nonsense
> Viacom is losing the free promotion it received from YouTube clips, and is losing the viewers who can’t see its shows overseas or because they don’t have cable TV.
> Viacom is going against the open nature of the web, where peer-to-peer sharing and viral video rule.
> Viacom is losing a place in the leading video repository online, where millions could view its videos and give valuable feedback on what’s popular and what’s not.
> Viacom is indirectly causing some YouTube users to have their videos wrongly removed — a cause which the Electronic Frontier Foundation is taking up.
Maybe all this doesn’t matter much to many online video fanatics, who are going online to watch video (and upload their own homemade videos) precisely because they want to get away from TV. Many people have pointed out that the freshness of online video is that it’s a new short-form entertainment that beats long-form TV.
What do you think? Do you think Viacom made the right or wrong move? Do you think they’ll eventually change their mind and put their videos back on YouTube? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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