Lonelygirl15 on YouTube

September 16, 2006

I couldn’t start off this blog without some good news about YouTube.  The New York Times ran several pieces on “Lonelygirl15,” an actress who masqueraded as a teenager in a strict religious family who would share her innermost thoughts on video clips on YouTube.  The clips attracted thousands of viewers. (Articles here and here.)  Turns out it was apparently all a ruse for a commercial project that could turn into a movie.

Despite the ruse, the incident shows some of the promise in YouTube in facilitating the creation of expressive works.

The problem of “snuff” clips and propaganda on YouTube

September 16, 2006

News:  The Internet darling YouTube faced a tough week, this week.  One record company appeared to be threatening a copyright lawsuit (see below), while there were press reports that some video clips surfacing on YouTube contained scenes of American soldiers being killed in Iraq.  Even worse, the clips were believed to be created by Iraqi insurgent groups.  (The Hawaii Star Bulletin has the full story.)

Analysis: I’ve wondered what kind of screening process YouTube engages in before any video is allowed to become available on its site.  Does an employee have to review each one, or is the scrutiny less onerous?  Either way, I think YouTube should consider ways to stop these utterly graphic, propaganda clips from their site.

Universal Music poised to sue YouTube

September 16, 2006

News: This week, Universal Music CEO Doug Morris blasted the video-sharing site YouTube.com (and the social networking site MySpace) for allowing copyright infringement of Universal’s music on YouTube’s site. For those not familiar with YouTube, people can upload short videos to share with others on the site. Some people who make these videos sometimes incorporate copyrighted music into their clips, of course, without authorization of the copyright owners. Therein lies the problem.

“We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars. How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly,” Morris said.  That’s no doubt a thinly veiled threat of a lawsuit. (AP has more.)

Analysis: This is the time bomb that’s been waiting to happen for YouTube.com, since it was founded in February 2005.  By and large, the company has avoided a major copyright lawsuit.  In July 2006, the copyright owner of video taken of Reginald Denny’s beating in the LA riots sued YouTube (see here), but that lawsuit represents small potatoes when compared to what might happen if Universal sues for what it claims is “tens of millions of dollars.” 

Based on my understanding, YouTube has a policy of taking down video clips for which it receives a complaint from the copyright owner or others that someone has used copyrighted work without authorization.  Whether this policy is sufficient enough may be tested if a lawsuit is filed.

Let’s hope that Universal shows some restraint, though.  Warner Brothers Records and Capitol Records have used YouTube as advertising by running their music videos on YouTube.  And the movie and television studios have also attempted to find ways to exploit YouTube to their advantage, despite what appears to be unauthorized copying of clips from their works by some users.