Pirates, Man Your Oars (*Update*)

The big news yesterday (besides North Korea detonating a nuke) was the deal between Google and YouTube. And of course because Mark Cuban has been relatively vocal on the subject of YouTube and continues to be vocal, I stopped by his blog to read his latest on the deal (Link) and skim the reader comments. And while reading a comment something struck me: the anti-corporate “free everything” crowd is going to volutarily go to work for the very corporations they claim to despise. Many of them, because they’re not especially savvy, are going to get used. My comment on Cuban’s blog explains how:

Google will share revenue derived from the content with the uploader, any copyright owners, and Google of course.

No. They’re not going to pay the uploader anything. The uploader (and possible content thief) is going to be the engine that drives more corporate profit. This is just a variation on the idea that music companies can still make money off of p2p downloads. Attention has value. And it all ties back to ad revenue.

YouTube is going to use the DMCA and let rights holders issue their notices. Only before that happens we might see the integrated advertising. And the revenue stream might give the rights holders pause. Here’s a scenario:

Dumbsh*t dude uploads his video that has someone else’s copyprotected music playing to it. The page has ads on it. The revenue from the visits goes into a fund tied to that upload. The rights holder issues a takedown notice, only Google sends them a check – the proceeds from the ad revenue. Google takes a percentage and the uploader gets nothing. Google is happy and the rights holder is both surprised and happy. The uploader thinks he’s getting away with something but doesn’t realize he’s creating content for someone else. The rights holder agrees to a limited license on that particular upload in exchange for that check and future revenue from the embedded adsense or whatever else is on the page.

If someone uploads a music video, same scenario. Sure anyone can post it to their blog or whatever, but community is key; and that’s where the best advertising resides because they’re targetable. The sifting sites might bleed off some traffic, but there are ways to deal with that as well.

Google/YouTube may essentially be taking a page from the Pirate Bay people. Those guys rake in lots of ad money and don’t do anything but provide much of anything beyond the space on their servers. Well, Google can do that too. And they can do it better. And they can do it out in the open. And they have a crack legal team to help steer things in the direction that best suits both their interests and the legitimate rights holders.

Some stuff will be taken down. No doubt about it. But there is an upside to this that is very intriguing. How it actually plays out will be worth watching. This could both show rights holders legitimate reasons why loosening their grip is beneficial and demonstrate to the pirating masses that there is more value in their attention than in the non-tangible, easily-replicated content itself.

(*Update – Apologies for not having the time to do much reading on the whole deal; however, via a post on the MIT Convergence Culture blog – Link – I made my way over to Pete Cashmore’s Mashable – Link – which contained the following:

What’s more, CBS will be the first to test YouTube’s new “content identification architecture”, which allows the company to track down unauthorized use of their copyrighted content – CBS will then have the choice to remove the clips, or let them stay up. But here’s the interesting bit: if they decide not to remove unauthorized content, YouTube will share the revenue from any ads placed around those clips. In other words: YouTube is now incentivizing the TV companies to leave their content on the site, even if a user put it there without permission. This is the ideal solution to the copyright problem, and I sincerely hope it works out.

Pete doesn’t go into how this presents a potential conflict for all the gung ho, anti-corporate pirates out there, but I don’t doubt he’s come to the same realization. This is all too funny.}

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