Mark Cuban atacks YouTube again

September 29, 2006

News:  Dallas Mavericks owner and tech billionaire Mark Cuban attacked YouTube again before a group of New York advertisers.  Cuban said that only a “moron” would buy YouTube, and predicted that YouTube would be “sued into oblivion” with copyright infringement lawsuits. “They are just breaking the law.  The only reason it hasn’t been sued yet is because there is nobody with big money to sue.” (More from ZdNet)

On his Blog Maverick, Cuban is a little bit more restrained in his assessment.  At least he doesn’t use the word “moron.”  He states:  “Im holding to my prediction on Youtube. The complexity of rights issues. Their lack of DRM. And that doesnt even account for the stupidity of subsidizing Myspace and hosting how many videos on myspace pages, millions ?? The minute they try to monetize those videos, you can bet Fox will have their own solution waiting to release. No Youtube on Myspace ? No Youtube on how many other pages once they start to try to incorporate ads (Yeah I know they said they wouldnt). What happens to their traffic ? All of the sudden rather than being the darling, the articles will be talking about the dramatic decline in traffic.

“If they dont incorporate ads, then thats even worse. Again, that means they are hosting the video of the net for free. Thats an ugly, no win business.

“A word of wisdom to the Youtube folks, sell if you can. A word of wisdom to a potential buyer, the minute the labels see even the hint of deep pockets they are going to come after you for all your worth. It will be a Lawyers Employment Act. Just ask Bertlesman about being the deep pockets behind Napster. Its not different this time.”

Analysis:  I’ve already explained here why I think Cuban’s predictions about YouTube’s decline is wrong.  Let me add a few more thoughts.

1.  Businesses do not perceive YouTube as Napster.  One of Cuban’s central premises is that YouTube is the same as Napster and will meet the same demise.  I don’t think that’s right, technologically speaking.  Importantly, YouTube allows sharing of video (not audio) files.  The video files are very short clips and do not substitute for the actual copyrighted shows or movies.  In fact, many broadcast and cable shows have permitted short clips of their shows onto YouTube, basically, for free advertising. 

You only need to look at the timeline to see that businesses have treated YouTube differently.  YouTube is nearly 1 year and 7 months old, and still the movie and music industry have not sued for alleged copyright infringement.   By contrast, Napster was just 7 months old when the major record labels sued it.  YouTube has already secured deals with NBC, Warner Music, Cingular, and other legitimate businesses.

2.  Big money could have sued YouTube by now.  Cuban is just dead wrong that the reason the industries haven’t sued YouTube is for the lack of money.  Are you kidding me?  The RIAA has been waging thousands of cases for music file sharing, and the movie studios joined in for the Grokster case.  I think the reason the music and movie industries have remained on the side lines is that both recognize the potential gold mine in having a website that attracts millions of eyeballs each day. 

3.  Business deals can take care of IP problems.  One of the big points that Cuban misses is that businesses quite routinely strike deals to take care of potential IP problems.  For example, early on, Yahoo sued Google for patent infringement on its search technology, and yet Google still exists today.  How?  The two parties struck a deal, in the face of uncertainty over who held the IP rights to the search technology.  Likewise, Warner Music has already struck a deal with YouTube to allow its music to be used on YouTube.  In such case, the uncertain copyright issues vanish.     

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YouTube, getting corporate

September 28, 2006

News:  YouTube hired Suzie Reider as its Chief Marketing Officer, luring her away from CNET where she was senior VP general manager of entertainment.  (More here from mad.co.uk)

This comes on the heels of the hiring of Gideon Yu as CFO earlier this month.  Yu had been lured away from Yahoo, where he was treasurer and senior VP.

Analysis:  Just another sign that YouTube is trying to grow up.  One of the key points in Google’s evolution as a business occurred when co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin acquiesced — under pressure from its investors — to bringing in the experienced Eric Schmidt as CEO, luring him away from software maker Novell.  Co-founder Chad Hurley currently serves as CEO of YouTube.


Free Hug Guy and Sick Puppies on YouTube

September 28, 2006

News:  In Sydney, Australia, a guy named Juan Mann goes around the Pitt Street mall with a sign saying “Free Hugs.”  It may sound a little wacky, but apparently it became a small hit until reportedly police shut it down.  Mann organized a petition getting the necessary 10,000 signatures to continue the dispensing of free hugs to the public. 

This week, a video of the hug fest was posted on YouTube and it quickly became a huge sensation.  As of 10 a.m. today, the video had 849,691 hits and 6,149 comments. Yesterday, it was even shown on Good Morning, America.  The clip is quite slick, and synched with music from the band Sick Puppies, who authorized the use (to promote their music?).  (More from the Sydney Morning Herald

Analysis:  At first, the “Free Hug” guy sounded a little creepy to me.  After watching the video, though, I was won over.  First, it’s a slick production and that always help.  Second, when you see the interaction of the guy with all these different strangers who appear to be happy hugging with smiles on their faces, that can’t be a bad thing.  Of course, I’m assuming that what’s on the video is all a true story!


FOX News allows clips of Bill Clinton interview on YouTube

September 27, 2006

Apparently, FOX News realized that its demand to YouTube to remove Chris Wallace’s heated interview with Bill Clinton from YouTube’s site made no sense at all.  Webloggin reports that his and other removed clips of the Clinton interview were restored on YouTube.

As I reported yesterday here, I think it only helps FOX News to have this much-talked-about video surfacing all over the Internet, even on sites that haven’t asked for permission.  There’s no better way to create buzz for the FOX News division.  And there’s nothing in the Copyright Act that says the copyright owner can’t impliedly consent to such uses.


Maybe MySpace did not beat YouTube, after all

September 27, 2006

News:  Several commentators have posited explanations for why MySpace may have come out of head in a survey of the number of streamed videos from its site, even over YouTube.  I discussed the comScore survey here. 

Loren Baker of Search Engine Journal points out: (1) MySpace automatically streams video upon entry to a user’s page, meaning that if a friend visits your MySpace page several times a day, the videos will stream each time.  (2) a recent study of number of hits placed YouTube first, with 45.45%, and MySpace videos second, with 22.99%

Perhaps more importantly, Baker concludes:  “Regardless, Google, Yahoo and MSN still trail behind newcomers MySpace and YouTube in one or more studies, which should have the major media outlets and search engines looking for ways to plan to do battle with these new media outlets.”

Analysis:  Baker’s explanation of the comScore survey seems fairly persuasive.  To the extent MySpace allows automatic streaming without the need for the user to click on a video, that would raise the possibility of an inflated number of streamed videos.   


Video of Bill Clinton going ballistic on FOX’s Chris Wallace

September 27, 2006

News: On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton got into an angry verbal joust with FOX News’s Chris Wallace, who questioned his record in going after Bin Laden.  Things deteriorated to the point where President Clinton accused Wallace of carrying out a “conservative hit job” on him.

Highlights of the verbal joust were shown on all the networks Sunday night.  FOX News put the video up on its website.  Eventually, clips made their way onto YouTube and other sites.  At some point today, however, FOX News, as the copyright owner, reportedly asked YouTube to remove all the clips of the interview from its site.  YouTube did, consistent with its policy of taking down copyrighted content when notice is provided by the copyright owner.  YouTube had a message indicating:   “This video has been removed at the request of copyright owner Fox News Network, LLC because its content was used without permission.” (More here)

Now, however, it appears that clips of the interview have resurfaced on YouTube.  (See here)  This suggests either that FOX News had a change of heart and is allowing the clips to be played on YouTube, or other users of YouTube have posted the clips more recently. 

Analysis:  It’s hard not to be a little bit cynical about the entire interview, on both sides.  A lot of hullabaloo is being made over what seems to be a pretty insignificant event from a news or policy standpoint. For what it’s worth, I think FOX News should just let the clips run freely on the Internet.  The clip has already aired so much on TV on different networks.  It will only help promote their news division to allow the clips to play freely on the Internet.


Lazydork: prosecutor by day, YouTube wannabe by night

September 26, 2006

Richard Stern was a prosecutor for Dade County in Florida.  But, unbeknownst to his colleagues, he also wanted to be a star on the Internet, so he shot amusing (perhaps ridiculous) videos of himself and uploaded them onto YouTube.  Not necessarily the best move for a prosecutor.

Fearing that his YouTube videos would be discovered and hurt his ability as a prosecutor, Stern quit and decided to move to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player.  Now that’s going all in.  (More from MiamiHerald