Hilliard high school student pulls prank on rival school on YouTube

August 31, 2007

News:  I heard about this high school prank on the local radio and just got more info from colleagues.  High school student Kyle Garchar got the opposing team’s fans to hold up placards that spelled out:  “We Suck” in the stands. 

The kid got suspended for 3 days by Hilliard Davidson High School for what the school viewed as an “unsportsmanlike” prank.  Of course, Garchar shot video of his prank and posted it on YouTube. (More)

Analysis:  I’ll be honest.  I don’t think this prank worked as well as the major media outlets describe.  If you watch the video, the words “We Suck” are barely readable in the stands.  Garcher even has to hold up a piece of paper to show what the configuration says.

Video of the week: The YouTube presidential debate in cartoon

August 31, 2007

“Censorship” on and by YouTube

August 31, 2007

News:  There are several interesting blog posts today about censorship on and by YouTube, as to the controversial videos mocking the Thai King, the German Nazi videos, Al Qaeda recruitment videos, and even videos suspected of copyright infringement.  NYT writer Patrick Lyons has one post, which refers to another thoughtful post by Jason Lee Miller.

Miller writes at one point: “If speech on the Internet is determined by terms of service agreements set forth by private companies not only beholden to advertisers, partners and shareholders, but also to international pressures, then there will be no real freedom of speech on the Internet.”

Analysis:  Under the U.S. Constitution, there’s really no problem (legally speaking) for YouTube to remove content it deems objectionable.  YouTube is not a state actor, so YouTube’s “censorship” of material doesn’t come within the scope of the First Amendment.  Private actors can censor, the government can’t.  YouTube has every right to decide for itself — or let its community decide — to take down objectionable content, including hate speech videos, pornography, and copyright infringing videos.

The interesting wrinkle comes in when YouTube starts censoring based on compliance with foreign laws or requests by foreign governments, especially foreign laws that would violate our First Amendment if enacted here.  At least as a PR matter, it certainly presents YouTube something to think about.      

Thailand lifts ban on YouTube

August 31, 2007

News:  After 5 months, Thailand has finally lifted its ban of YouTube in its country.  The ban came after videos mocking the Thai King surfaced and resurfaced on YouTube — in violation of Thai law.  To reach a solution, YouTube apparently agreed to deploy filtering of the videos in Thailand (although it’s still not clear to me whether that means complete removal of all offending videos from YouTube, something YT had earlier resisted for some reason).  (More)

Analysis:  I’m surprised it took YouTube this long to get the ban lifted.  Maybe there’s not many users of YouTube in Thailand. 

Audio of police interrogation of Sen. Larry Craig on YouTube

August 31, 2007

To be honest, I was surprised by the audio. I found it more helpful to Senator Craig’s side than the police’s, at least after all the negative media portrayal of what happened. Throughout the police interview, Senator Craig maintains his innocence. His story sounded at least halfway plausible. If I were on a jury, I would like to hear some testimony from several witnesses proving the meaning of the putative “bathroom signals” to solicit sex.  That would have been crucial to the prosecution’s case, had this gone to trial.

So who’s on YouTube?: Senator Larry Craig

August 30, 2007

He even has his own YouTube channel.

Kevjumba, the funniest guy on YouTube

August 30, 2007

Kevjumba is the No.1 Comedian on YouTube, with the most subscribers of any comedian on YouTube and 12th most, all-time.  You can watch his videos here.  I like Kevjumba’s attitude and delivery.  He’s pretty hilarious

Mitt Romney wants you to make his next video

August 30, 2007

Details here.  (Hat tip: newteevee)

Hello to Hulu, the YouTube killer from NBC + FOX

August 30, 2007

News: NBC and Fox have joined together in an online video project that has been nicknamed “the YouTube killer,” reflecting at least the intentions of its creators. Yesterday, the project announced its name — “Hulu” — on its website (still in beta). Jason Kilar, the CEO, even writes to explain the name: “Why Hulu? Objectively, Hulu is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and rhymes with itself. Subjectively, Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we’re building. Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world’s premier content when, where and how you want it.”

Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch humorously points out that “hulu” means “butt” in two languages and “cease and desist” in Swahili. Salon points out that all names rhyme with themselves, so that’s no reason to pick a name.


Analysis: Hulu will focus on providing “premium” or “quality” video content from TV shows. It won’t include amateur, user-generated videos (as I understand it), so it’s hoping that viewers will prefer “premium” content over the amateur stuff on YouTube. Whether that strategy will be enough to compete with YouTube’s huge lead in user base, only time will tell. I think it will be an interesting battle to watch. I do like the look of the Hulu website so far, so at least they’ve hired some decent design people.

As for the name “Hulu,” I think if you have to explain it, it ain’t that good.

YouTube strikes licensing deal with British music publishers + songwriters

August 30, 2007

News: YouTube struck a major deal with MCPS-PRS Alliance, a British collecting society that represents 10 million musical works on behalf of their publishers or song writers. Under the deal, YouTube will pay a flat fee for use of the musical works on videos on YouTube by its users.  Terms of the flat fee were not disclosed. (More)

Analysis: This is an incredibly important deal for YouTube to stave off more copyright lawsuits. Now it needs to do the same thing with all the U.S. music publishers suing it. As a business strategy, I find it hard to believe that YouTube would only strike this kind of deal with the UK music publishers. If YouTube is able to secure similar deals with the U.S. music publishers suing it and to settle their claims, the copyright lawsuits against YouTube would certainly become less worrisome (reducing the potential scope of liability).

So what do I do in my day job?

August 30, 2007

I write about the intersection between law and technology. My latest article is titled “Freedom of the Press 2.0,” and it will be published by the Georgia Law Review.

You can read the abstract of my article on SSRN and  even download a copy of the working draft. I don’t explicitly discuss YouTube (in an earlier version I did, but it met the chopping block), but there is a connection to YouTube that I plan on writing about in other works. Stay tuned.

The Esmee Denters of old returns to YouTube

August 29, 2007

Esmee Denters returns back to how it all started, with a simple music video of her singing. I will soon be writing a post about YouTube’s Second Biggest Challenge: finding and keeping talent on its site.

Are politicians afraid of YouTube?

August 29, 2007

News: The Detroit Free Press has this excellent article analyzing how YouTube affects, if not frightens, politicians.  Here’s a snippet:

“But the angst about how easily it is to ridicule someone online was reflected in the questions I was asked. One woman representative said someone took a picture of her face and superimposed another body underneath that “was dressed in pajamas” and used it in a YouTube parody. “Is that legal?” she asked.

“I couldn’t help but snicker.

“You laugh,” she said, “But that was embarrassing to me.”

“So were the objects of the crude cartoons used to disparage candidates back in the old pamphleteering days, I said. It’s just that the Internet makes political ridicule more immediate. If you’re in the public eye, you’re going to get your’s blackened from time to time.”

More anti-Semitic videos on YouTube

August 29, 2007

News: YouTube is also embroiled in a controversy in Germany, over videos containing anti-Semitic and Nazi material.  The Central Council of Jews has threatened to sue YouTube (in Germany, it’s illegal to disseminate Nazi material).  So far, YouTube has reportedly removed a third of the videos complained about.  (More)

Analysis:  YouTube does allow users to flag “hate speech” for removal from YouTube.  But, with an open system screened first by users, there’s always a chance of inappropriate videos slipping through.  This is the same system that lets unauthorized videos (possibly copyright infringement) slip through.

Columbus police officer reassigned after making racist videos on YouTube

August 29, 2007

News:  The Columbus Police Department reassigned patrol officer Susan Purtee (60) to a desk job after she made several racist videos (along with her sister, Barbara Gordon-Bell), railing against Jews and blacks. (More here)  The Police Department is considering whether further action should be taken against the officer.  The two sisters posted the racist videos on their personal website, thepatriotdames.com.  They were also posted on YouTube under the name “subie sisters.”  You can view the YouTube videos here.

Below is one of their anti-Semitic videos, which they describe as follows:  “The Subie Sisters explore the thinking of the present day Jew and why that might contribute to the destruction of American society.”

Warning: the video contains racist, hate speech.  I debated whether to include this video, but I think readers need to know what kind of content it contains.

Analysis:   I was interviewed yesterday by a local radio station about whether the officer can be disciplined or whether her speech is protected by the First Amendment.  The short answer is:  Under Supreme Court case law, I believe the Columbus Police Department can discipline Officer Purtee — even fire her — without any First Amendment problem.  (I can’t speak to the City’s internal employee regulations or code of conduct.) 

The test under the First Amendment for speech by a public employee is twofold: (1) “Whether the employee spoke as a citizen on a matter of public concern,” and (2) if so, “whether the government entity had an adequate justification for treating the employee differently from any other member of the general public,” such as restricting “speech that has some potential to affect the entity’s operations.”  Garcetti v. Ceballos, 126 S. Ct. 1951, 1958 (2006).

In this case, it’s at least debatable whether the speech in the videos involve a “matter of public concern.”  If they don’t, then there’s no First Amendment claim for the public employee.  But even if they do involve matters of public concern, the government has discretion to restrict speech that has some potential to affect the entity’s operations.  In this case, the Columbus Police Department would have a very strong basis to conclude that racially incendiary videos disseminated by a police officer — even while off-duty — can undermine the public’s trust and confidence in the police department, and in the fair and equal administration of law enforcement.  Courts would give a lot of leeway to the police department in this kind of case.   

Update on Miss South Carolina of Teen USA

August 28, 2007

News:  By now, you’ve probably seen the viral video of Miss South Carolina in the Teen USA pageant, in which she gets completely stumped by a question and is reduced to talking gibberish.  The video has over 3.5 million views on YouTube (there are several other copies of it, so the total number of views is even higher).  Just to put these numbers into perspective, the video of Miss South Carolina has generated far more views in 3 days than all of the videos of any presidential candidate has generated on YouTube in months. Here’s the video of Miss South Carolina with subtitles:

The video was aired on news stations around the country and on David Letterman last night–twice!  Paul Schaeffer, a Canadian, said he enjoyed every second of it.  Miss South Carolina, who is Lauren Caitlin Upton, will appear on the Today show today to explain what happened.  To a local paper, she said, “”I wasn’t expecting [the question]. I lost my train of thought.”  (More)

Analysis:  In the grand scheme of things, I think this botched answer will help Lauren Caitlin Upton.  Just look at all the media attention she has received!  Ironically, no one is talking about the winner of the pageant.  Ms. Upton is really marketable right now.  She should capitalize on her 15 minutes of fame.  For example, how about a commercial for Rand McNally or a GPS maker?  Or even the iPhone, which, of course, has a map function.

My advice to Ms. Upton would be to just laugh off her botched answer.  Trust me, I’ve seen law students and practicing lawyers “crash and burn” in answering questions during oral argument in pretty embarrassing ways.  In fact, I’ll give Ms. Upton credit for delivering her answer so earnestly, without stopping like a deer in headlights, and even smiling at the end!  That was a nice touch.

The good thing for Ms. Upton is that we’re only talking about a beauty pageant, not a multi-million dollar case with everything on the line for the client.  Personally, I thought the question was pretty stupid itself.   

South Park creators score $75 million deal w/ Viacom

August 28, 2007

News:  South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker just signed a $75 milllion extension with Viacom.  Part of the deal gives the pair 50% of revenues generated on a new South Park website (which will have videos).  Viacom is, of course, embroiled in a lawsuit with YouTube over the posting of unauthorized clips from South Park and other Viacom shows.  (More)

Analysis:  The sharing of Internet revenues is an interesting development.  Right now, the amount of revenue probably will be small (especially compared to television).  That may change one day, perhaps sooner than we expect.

So who’s on YouTube?: The X Factor

August 27, 2007

This is Simon Cowell’s American Idol-like show in the UK. Unlike American Idol (whose rights are owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns MySpace, a competitor to YouTube), the X Factor has its own channel on YouTube. The outrageous video above seemed to me pretty staged. The singer in the video below is pretty good.  Th X Factor UK just joined YouTube this month.  I’m sure it will get a lot of views.

Interview about my study on the presidential candidates on YouTube

August 27, 2007

News: I was interviewed in an op-ed published in the Columbus Dispatch about the study I conducted on the presidential candidate videos on YouTube. As you might have guessed, the hot topic of conversation was Ron Paul.

So who’s on YouTube?: Vanessa Hudgens

August 26, 2007

Star of “High School Musical” 1 + 2.  This video has close to 5 million views.

Miss South Carolina, really, really stumped by question in Teen USA

August 26, 2007

News: This viral video is nearing the 1 million mark — in 1 day.

Analysis: Is the question more stupid than the answer? I know, it’s hard to defend someone saying there are not enough maps in America. Maybe Miss South Carolina should have said: “I don’t think it’s really a problem because, nowadays, people use Google Earth or Mapquest.” That would’ve been hilarious.

UPDATE: If you want to read the text of her answer, click on the Comment below. If you need subtitles, watch the video below.

UPDATE 2.0:  I have a further update posted here.  I don’t think Miss South Carolina needs any sympathy — she’ll come out quite well from this entire episode.  She should hire an agent because she’s extremely marketable right now.

Esmee Denters celebrates 1 year on YouTube

August 25, 2007

News: YouTube sensation Esmee Denters announces a contest, shows a preview of behind-the-scenes video of her rise to stardom, and then performs an original song at the end. UPDATE: Esmee took down the original video with the new song and posted a different video without the new song, but with a souped up version of “Figure It Out.”

Analysis: Happy anniversary, Esmee! It’s been quite a year. Thanks for sharing it with the YouTube community. The best is yet to come.

Video of the week: High School Musical 2 on YouTube

August 24, 2007

“High School Musical 2” debuted this week. If you don’t have kids, you may not be aware that this Disney franchise is a mega-hit, selling more albums in 2006 than any other (even American Idol stars). The debut of the sequel this week received 17 million viewers on Disney, the most ever for a cable show. Wow, now that’s impressive. “High School Musical” stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale. (I finally know who Ashley Tisdale is, ’cause I’ve seen her YouTube videos before.)

I’m more intrigued by the fact that clips from “High School Musical” are some of the most watched clips on YouTube, dating back close to one year. Disney doesn’t seem to mind these postings by third parties on YouTube since they haven’t asked for their removal. It might well be that Disney doesn’t want to alienate all the teenagers and young kids who are posting these videos of “High School Musical” on YouTube out of their sheer fanaticism for the movie.

Are some YouTubers overreacting to the new InVideo ads

August 24, 2007

News:  I’ve read over some of the negative comments posted by people on YouTube related to YouTube’s InVideo ad system.  Under the new system, YouTube will deploy ads that will pop-up at the bottom 20% of the video screen, lasting for several seconds.  If you click on the pop-up ad, you will be redirected to an internal ad video.  If you do nothing, the ad disappears.  Meanwhile, the original video you played will continue playing.  One thing to note:  the new InVideo ads will only be used on select “Partner” videos — the corporations and select users YouTube has deals with.

Some of the comments sent in to YouTube are filled with expletives, vitriol, and venom.  Here’s one thoughtful comment I read, though:  “‘OK by me. Someone has to pay the bills. Between users fees and advertising I prefer the latter.’ Yeah, but why does someone have to pay the bills with intrusive advertising now when they didn’t before? If YouTube originally had ads IN or BEFORE the videos, it would be just as unpopular as all the other video sites, and it would have never grown the massive user base that greedy baby boomer investors and marketers now salivate over. There is a reason young people latched on to YouTube…it offered something other than the “60% content and 40% marketing” formula that insults us from the television screen. Make no mistake- too much advertising and the real YouTube will soon be remembered as a historical curiousity; a good idea and an interesting phenomenon spoiled by greed. Don’t forget that we are here because we are tired of commercials. If YouTube doesn’t understand that or can’t support thier business in that way, then it’s time you guys found a new line of work.”

Analysis:  The comment has some force to it.  YouTube appealed to people because the videos were ad-free, and not filled with pre-roll ads so common on commercial sites.  I believe the commenter’s exactly right that people were/are tired of seeing commercials everywhere they go (except during the Super Bowl). 

But I’m not sure YouTube’s InVideo ads will ruin the original ethos of YouTube.  As I noted above, the majority of videos won’t have these ads.  One reason is for fear of copyright liability:  YouTube knows that inserting commercial ads into user videos that constitute copyright infringement will expose YouTube to a claim for vicarious liability, outside the DMCA safe harbor.  In other words, there are a bunch of unauthorized videos on YouTube posted by users.  YouTube can’t risk profiting from them with commercial ads because that would defeat any DMCA safe harbor defense for YouTube.

iJustine’s popular YouTube video makes AT&T change iPhone bill

August 23, 2007

News:  iJustine is featured in today’s NYT for her video spoofing AT&T’s 300 page bill for iPhone service.  Her video, along with other complaints, caused AT&T to come to its senses and stop sending subscribers bills over several hundred pages.

Analysis: Who in their right mind at AT&T ever thought that a 300 page monthly bill would fly?

VideoEgg clarifies its position on internal ads on YouTube

August 23, 2007

News: Michael Arrington of the Tech Crunch blog has a great post on the market reaction to VideoEgg’s suggestion that YouTube has ripped off VideoEgg’s internal ad technology (for which VE has sought patents). Apparently, a VideoEgg exec has stated (maybe that’s too strong a word?) on the Tech Crunch blog that VE has no plans of stopping others from using internal ad technology with its patents if they are granted.

Analysis: If that’s the case, then YouTube has nothing to worry about in deploying its new internal overlay ad system (unless VE later changes its mind).  I now stand by my original take:  this new ad system is how YouTube will make billions.

Will YouTube users revolt at new internal ads on YouTube?

August 23, 2007

News:  YouTube’s own blog has a post asking people for feedback on the new internal pop-up ads within select partner videos on YouTube (discussion in the prior post below).  A number of the comments seem quite negative, as reported here.  Here’s one YouTuber’s video critique.

Analysis:  Personally, I like the internal ads, especially because, as I understand it, they will be deployed only on partner videos (and not the majority of videos on YouTube).  I don’t find the ads intrusive, and YouTube’s got to find a way to make money.  People can’t expect YouTube to offer everything for free to people, even free of any ads within videos.  The internal ads are much better than pre-roll ads that are so common on commercial sites.  If you watch television, you often see things scrolling on the bottom of the screen (like a news ticker) or watermarks at the corner of the screen.  I usually just ignore those things.   

VideoEgg suggests YouTube’s new internal ads are ripoffs of VideoEgg technology

August 23, 2007

News: As Tech Crunch reported, VideoEgg is blasting YouTube for the new internal overlay ads being deployed on YouTube in the past few months. VideoEgg claims to have developed the technology last year, and even applied for patents on it. Wired has an interview of a VideoEgg exec.

VideoEgg’s internal ads



YouTube’s internal ads



Analysis: OK, the technology of having an internal ad within a video from YouTube looks very similar to the one from VideoEgg (at least currently on its site). Just compare the photos above — they both even have the Bourne Ultimatum ad. I did notice some difference between the ads, though; VideoEgg’s seemed to automatically play by itself at the end, while YouTube’s doesn’t.

Even though the technology is similar, YouTube really has no worry unless that Video Egg successfully obtains patents from the Patent Office for the technology or method used. That’s when you could expect another lawsuit against YouTube. It’s anyone’s guess what the Patent Office will do. Could you imagine, though, if someone tried to patent the use of TV commercials? Sounds a little silly. If a patent is granted to VideoEgg, it could change what I said about YouTube making billions from this new ad system.

Too many boobs on YouTube?

August 22, 2007

News:  There’s a growing controversy on YouTube.  And, yes, it involves boobs.  To get more viewers to their videos, a number of people insert a screenshot of women’s scantily clad breasts (or behinds, for that matter) into their video — strategicially placed to be the still shot or thumb nail pic you see on screen for the video on YouTube.  You’ll find a few examples of this practice from “nogoodtv” or “hotforwords.”  (There’s not supposed to be any nudity in these videos on YouTube, but I haven’t checked through them.)

In the video above, Paperlillies criticizes YouTube for partnering up with people who do this in their revenue-sharing program.

Off topic, but check out this restaurant review:

Terra Naomi is “Not Sorry”

August 22, 2007

Terra Naomi is back with a new single, “Not sorry.”  She also bares her soul again on her blog, seeming somewhat fed up with some emails she has received.  This is a cool song, but isn’t the lighting on the video kind of dim?