BuzzFeed gives “backdoor” into beta of Hulu website

October 31, 2007

News: While Hulu (the premium content site provided by NBC Universal and Fox) is in beta and open only to those invited, a site called BuzzFeed has found a way for everyone to look at the new Hulu site. Just go to BuzzFeed for the so-called “backdoor” to Hulu.

Analysis: The video quality — meaning the definition and clarity of the picture — is fantastic. Great job, NBC and Fox!! As I said several times before, this marks the beginning of the end of TV as we know it. The Internet will be taking over, soon.  (And no FCC regulations there.)

Halloween & YouTube

October 31, 2007

This was the first video I made on YouTube. It’s of a party I threw for my students, who took me up on my offer–or dare–to dress up in costume for Halloween. I didn’t fully appreciate the power and popularity of video until making this video. I understand now. Video is the new writing, and YouTube is the new printing press.

Thanks to my students for helping make this all happen!

Will Hulu kill YouTube?

October 30, 2007

News: NBC Universal and Fox have teamed up to develop a video site called “Hulu” that will deliver “premium” content of their own TV shows, like The Office and Prison Break. Users can’t upload anything, sorry. Wired gives the beta version of Hulu a favorable review. (I’ve signed up for the beta, but am still waiting on my invite.)

Analysis: So will Hulu be the “YouTube killer” it was touted by some to be? I think Wired has the right answer: basically, no. (“[W]ith the lack of user-generated content, it falls short of the end-all be-all site for online video. Viewers are still going to go to YouTube and still click their ads — but in terms of piracy a minor rebellion may have been quelled.”) But here’s what Hulu will help to kill: the DVR industry and the primacy of network television. As I’ve been saying all along, this is the beginning of the end of television as we know it.

Teacher Cristina Mallon, of YouTube “cheerleading” fame, under scrutiny again for “Jake Reinvited”

October 30, 2007

News:  Out in Gilbert, Arizona, English teacher and cheerleading coach Cristina Mallon appears to be facing another controversy.  As you remember, she was put on 1-week administrative leave for performing her cheerleading routine in class (caught on video by a student and then posted on YouTube).  Now, some parents are complaining about the novel she assigned to her freshman class, Jake Reinvented.  (More)

Here’s a review of the book on Amazon:  ” Gr. 9-12. High society meets high school in this retelling of The Great Gatsby, set at the class-conscious F. Scott Fitzgerald High. The stories correspond in many particulars: new kid Jake Garrett, “cool, mysterious, different,” has won over the “it” crowd with raucous parties at his subdivision McMansion. Popular opinion turns against Jake when alpha male Todd Buckley suspects the newcomer, rightly, of pursuing his best girl, Didi, and turns up an ugly secret: Jake was once (gasp!) a big nerd. So begins Garrett’s plunge to ignominy. The Nick Carraway character, Rick, offers a wry, comic voice, but constricting Fitzgerald’s plot to the narrow world of high school, and scaling back the major crises (there’s no death, murder, or suicide), leaves behind a drama that has more in common with a John Waters movie than a great American novel. Yet even as young adults feel insulted by the novel’s portrayal of teenagers as nerd haters, beer guzzlers, and herd followers, they’re also likely to read it with a wink and a smirk as they catch the sundry Gatsby allusions.”

Analysis:  I haven’t read the book yet, but the description of it sounds fine.  I wonder what is really going on in Gilbert, Arizona for this teacher –whom many of my readers defended and praised.

For more reports on the incident, visit here.

Ask Charles Barkley + Kenny Smith a question on YouTube

October 29, 2007

News: The NBA and TNT have teamed up on YouTube to allow you to ask TNT analysts Charles Barkely, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson a question on YouTube — which will be answered on TV on November 1.  Post your question to the video on YouTube.

London underground dinner party on “Tube,” popular on YouTube

October 29, 2007

Funny.  Imagine this on the New York subway!

Thank you, Sports Illustrated

October 29, 2007

I just wanted to thank Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated for linking to my post here about the Trinity football game. The traffic to The Utube Blog has been pretty amazing, all because of a Division III football game! My post about the Trinity game is now the No. 13 Top Post for the day among all of the over million WordPress blogs. I owe it all to Stewart (and Google!).

UPDATE:  My post hit No.6 Top Post for WordPress blogs.  I never imagined of ever hitting No.1, but at least today I can dream.


How to sync music into YouTube videos — legally

October 29, 2007

If you’re wondering how to find music to legally sync into a YouTube video as background music, you may want to check out Magnatune. Although the artists are lesser known, the website offers over 500 albums with music to sync into your YouTube videos. The license basically comes with the purchase of the album — and, get this: you can pick the price! You also can share your music files with 3 friends.


I think Magnatunes is great. I found a song (“Permanent” by Arthur Yoria) I really loved in their selection, which I used for this video below. The song is also made to adjust to the length of your video, almost perfectly.

But I admit the number of contemporary songs offered by Magnatune is not that great, and, of course, you won’t find any popular songs or big name artists on this site (which means you are likely to have to sit and listen to a bunch of songs you’ve never heard before, in order to find one that fits your video). I see the latter absence as a big failing of the music industry.

The problem with the music industry: Back when the music industry was suing Napster, the industry failed to provide a user-friendly service online for consumers. Instead, it took the genius of Steve Jobs of Apple to show the music industry that, yes, consumers would pay money to download music files online if you offer the music in a simple process for a reasonable fee.

Magnatune may not yet be the iTunes for sync licensed music, but I think Magnatune does give us a glimpse of the possibility. It’s unfortunate that the music industry isn’t more proactive in trying to expand its own market online. As you know, a number of music publishers are suing YouTube for copyright infringement in several different lawsuits. Their suits center around copyrighted music being synced into home videos on YouTube as background music without permission. You might ask, so then how does one get proper authorization for a sync license? Well, it’s not easy. Over the past few months, I’ve been studying how to put music into your YouTube videos legally. It’s a bedeviling problem.

First, I reviewed YouTube’s music offerings in its “AudioSwap” program that allows users to sync some free music offerings (authorized by the music industry to YouTube) into their videos. The AudioSwap program is very crude as an editing tool, though, and the number of songs is paltry.

Second, I looked at how music labels and the music publishers offer “sync licenses.” Basically, the process stinks. You have to look up the song on ASCAP (or other directory) to find the music publisher for the song. Once you do, you have to fax or email in a written request to the publisher describing the nature of your project. I talked with several music publishers who seemed so tight-lipped about their sync licenses and possible prices (even though I actually wanted to buy a license), instead asking me to wait for a response ranging from 2 weeks to over 1 month. To be very honest, the people at the music publishers with whom I spoke were borderline rude — I got the feeling that my call was just a bother to them. (My guess is that the price for a license on a single song will be very high.)

Third, I went to MySpace Music and asked a few unsigned artists to let me use their song in my video, in exchange for giving them publicity on my blog. Only one artist even replied to me, but even she did not ever give me permission. MySpace Music also is quite cumbersome to use to find an artist who might be willing to grant a sync license, since the thousands of musicians on MySpace don’t actually indicate whether they are willing to do so on the website. That means you have to send out individual emails to the musicians in the hope that one of them (whose song you liked) might be willing to let you use the music.

Possible solution: The predicament people face in trying to obtain a sync license for a home video runs close to being a market failure. I can’t understand why the music industry doesn’t try to set up a simple, automated online process for sync licenses for use in home videos — just as Magnatune is doing with lesser known artists. If people are making millions of home videos each year, just think how much money the music industry can make from selling a sync license for noncommercial use of a song in a YouTube video, let’s say, for $2.00 per video. That’s millions of dollars of extra money each year. There’s a huge demand already. But the music industry isn’t giving consumers what they want. Why not?  (By the way, I’ve already told my idea to the RIAA earlier this year, but so far, I haven’t seen any developments.)

Terra Naomi sings Jane’s Addiction in Virtual Hotel Tour

October 28, 2007

Trinity wins on last second, using 15 “laterals” to beat Millsaps

October 28, 2007

Trinity University of San Antonio, a Division III school, won on the final play against Millsaps, by using 15 “laterals” to run down the field for a touchdown.  This video is pretty amazing, although it’s hard to beat the last second play by Cal to beat Stanford in 1982, when Stanford’s band was marching onto the field and one of the members got knocked over. Still got to love Division III football.  And the announcers started screaming just at the right moment.

Nick Haley makes Apple iPhone ad (w/o permission), but then gets hired by Apple

October 27, 2007

News: NYT and Wired both report about Nick Haley, a UK student who remixed video from Apple — without permission — and made a new ad for the iPhone with music from a Brazilian band, CSS, “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex.” Even though Haley didn’t get Apple’s permission to use its copyrighted images, Apple like the video so much it asked Haley to make a version for TV, to air tonight during the World Series.

Analysis: This is a fascinating example from a copyright perspective. The guy didn’t have copyright permission, but it turned out what he did was something that the copyright owner (at least one of them) ended up liking. (I don’t know whether the band authorized the use of its song or not.) I’m researching this kind of scenario in our Web 2.0 world and will be writing an article about the phenomenon. I think it has some serious implications for how we should understand the function of copyrights.

Video of the week: Creative Commons

October 26, 2007

You may have noticed on the right hand side that I’ve inserted a banner ad to “Support Creative Commons.” It’s the first (and so far only) ad I’ve put on this site. (Please click on the banner.)

As this video explains, Creative Commons is an organization started by Professor Lawrence Lessig, someone whom I was lucky enough to have met and worked with for several years while at Stanford. Larry is one of those rare, amazingly brilliant individuals who single-handedly transform the whole terms of a debate. He’s done that for the Internet and copyright issues. The basic mission of Creative Commons is to make it easier for everyone to share works and to give/get copyright permission with the tagging of a work ahead of time (so basically you don’t need to make elaborate efforts–like locating and writing the copyright holder–to get permission to use copyrighted works). This blog has a Creative Commons license on the right hand column below.

Each year, Creative Commons must raise money from contributions, in order to qualify for 501(c)(3) status as a tax-exempt, charitable nonprofit organization. I hope you consider giving to this worthy cause. Donate on the CC site.

Terra Naomi jams to “You sexy thing”

October 26, 2007

Analysis: Awesome. Just wait until Terra whips out the kazoo! What a hoot! This woman is so talented.

For more about Terra Naomi, here is my interview with her.

Candidate for Prime Minister Kevid Rudd caught in “eary” moment on YouTube

October 25, 2007

News: Six months ago, Labour Party leader Kevin Rudd, who’s now running for Aussie Prime Minister, was caught on video cleaning wax from his ear — and then eating it! Eww, I know, that’s nasty. The guy surely should have known the cameras would catch him in the background because he was sitting in the legislature in full view of the cameras.

If you think that’s disgusting, Gordon Brown (now PM of the UK) was caught picking his nose several times, as was George Bush before he became president. The Telegraph UK has more on the story.

Terra Naomi launches Virtual Tour 2.0 on YouTube

October 25, 2007

News: Terra Naomi is opening for The Fray in the UK. She decided to give us a glimpse of her tour by posting a video every night. Here’s the first, with Terra and her band in her hotel room.

Analysis: Lovely!

Microsoft scores minority deal with Facebook for $240 million

October 24, 2007

News: Microsoft beat Google in buying a minority stake (of $240 million) in the social networking site Facebook. The deal valued Facebook at a whopping $15 billion. That’s awesome for a company 4 years old. (More)  Tech Crunch has the press conference and the press release available here.

Analysis: A definite coup for Microsoft.

Google + Microsoft vie to buy stake in Facebook

October 24, 2007

News:  Bloomberg reports that both Google and Microsoft are vying to buy a minority stake (5 percent) in the social networking site Facebook, which would value the company at $10 to 15 billion. (More)

Analysis:  Wow, I wonder who will win the bidding (if anyone).  If Google got a foothold in Facebook, it would be even more formidable.

Aussie PM John Howard runs election campaign on YouTube

October 24, 2007

News:  Australian Prime Minister John Howard has already posted seven videos on YouTube in his capacity as Prime Minister.  Now, he’s running his re-election campaign on YouTube, too — altough so far the video has received only 8,000 views.  (By contrast, Ron Paul in the US election gets over 85,000 views on average per video.)

Analysis: Hmmm.  Is it possible that YouTube will help to decide the next leader of both the United States and Australia?  All of the US presidential candidates have their own channel on YouTube (with Ron Paul in the lead).  It will be fascinating to watch if there’s a single “YouTube moment” that shapes the entire campaign.

Robert Tur copyright case dismissed as he requested, over YouTube’s opposition

October 24, 2007

News: Robert Tur (of LA News Service who shot the famous footage of Reginald Denny’s beating) was the first person to sue YouTube for copyright infringement. Well, after other plaintiffs (with deeper pockets) later sued YouTube in other jurisdictions, Tur decided to have his case dismissed to join one of the class action suits in New York. That way, Tur won’t have to pay legal fees himself, but can free ride on the work of the attorneys already in the case.

In a somewhat unusual move, YouTube opposed the dismissal, basically desiring the case in California to proceed forward (or presumably have Tur’s claims completely extinguished). The district court, however, ruled in favor of Tur, allowing him to join the other case in New York. (More)

Analysis: YouTube probably felt relatively good about its chances of prevailing in California and hoped to score a first victory that could influence other courts. We’ll now see which court will be the first to decide in 2008.

For more about all the copyright cases against YouTube, visit here.

Mia Rose sings “Bubbly” on YouTube

October 24, 2007

Chad Hurley and Steve Chen meet Bill Clinton

October 24, 2007

News: Bill Clinton touts YouTube’s new non-profit program.  For more about the program, visit my earlier post.

Analysis: The Resident took this video. Apparently, the lighting was too strong because the picture looks washed out — until the very end, when the picture suddenly looks great.

YouTube launches video bar wizards for blogs

October 23, 2007

News: YouTube has announced on its blog a new video bar wizard that can be embedded into blogs and websites. The wizard allows you to display a menu of thumb nails of videos (grouped by a particular YouTuber’s videos, by a certain search term, or by the most recent, the most viewed, or top rated videos on YouTube). The wizard is basically like the Vod Pod I have on this blog on the right hand column, but tailored for YouTube videos. YouTube has an easy way to get your own wizard.

Analysis: This is a great idea, although it took YouTube awhile to launch the new wizard (since similar technology has been out for some time).  The size of the new wizard is what  I think would have been good for the overly large new advertising Video Units from YouTube (that I can’t imagine will fit easily into websites). The wizard, though, doesn’t have advertising.  And, unfortunately for me, I can’t figure out if the new wizard can be embedded into WordPress blogs.

NBC Nightly News on the Ron Paul campaign

October 23, 2007

News: After being ignored or dismissed by mainstream media, Ron Paul is slowly beginning to get coverage.  It certainly helped Ron Paul that he could get his message out on YouTube, unfiltered by the mainstream media.

Analysis: He’s been raising a lot of money, but can he win the Republican nomination?

NBC Universal terminates YouTube channel

October 23, 2007

News:  NBC Universal pulled the plug on its YouTube channel, without explanation.  The NBC channel on YouTube had some of the most popular videos on YouTube, including the megahit with Justin Timberlake and a strategically placed box.  The move is likely in anticipation of the launching of NBC’s joint video site with News Corp “Hulu,” which is now in beta.  (More)

Terra Naomi to return to “Virtual Tour” on YouTube

October 22, 2007

News: As typical for this amazing songstress, Terra Naomi has posted some very personal blog posts on her blog, discussing why she hasn’t posted many videos on YouTube after being discovered there. Here’s what she says: “A real lack of free time along with a few bad experiences made it really easy to distance myself from myspace and youtube, but i decided that i need to make more time to communicate with the people who actually get something from my music (unlike many of the other people i have to make time to talk to and deal with on a daily basis).” Terra confesses she’s still trying to “transition” from being an unknown artist posting on YouTube to a signed musician.

The good news is that Terra has decided to launch another “Virtual Tour” on YouTube, by posting a video every night of her upcoming tour with The Fray: “i also decided to revisit the virtual tour, and i will post a new video every night of the tour, from my hotel room. or maybe the bus. depends on where i am after each show, i guess!”

Analysis: In the past few months, I’ve wondered a little why Terra Naomi and Esmee Denters (both of whom posted many videos on YouTube before their signings with record labels) don’t continue to post that many videos anymore. Certainly, they have more demands on their time, especially trying to release a new album. At the same time, though, YouTube is where the fan base is that helped them get discovered. It’s great to hear Terra will be launching another “Virtual Tour” on YouTube.

For more information on Terra Naomi, visit here.

Ron Paul rules YouTube, Fred Thompson flops

October 22, 2007

News: The Utube Blog’s second report on the presidential candidate videos on YouTube is now available. Ron Paul continues to blow by the entire field of candidates, both Democratic and Republican. Newcomer Fred Thompson had a disappointing first month on YouTube.

Download: The Utube Blog second report on Presidential Candidate Videos on YouTube

Key Findings

(1) Republican candidate Ron Paul continues to be, by a wide margin, the most popular candidate on YouTube, in terms of the average number of views per video (85,194 views per video) and the number of subscribers to his YouTube channel (29,658). He also has the most total views (4,344,904) on YouTube for any presidential candidate (although he does not have the most viewed single video on YouTube—Hillary Clinton does).


(2) Republican candidate Fred Thompson has drawn only a relatively few number of YouTube viewers in the first month of his campaign, maintaining a very low average number of views per video (3,780 views per video). He gained only 581 subscribers to his YouTube channel. His most watched video captured over 55,000 views.


(3) Overall, the videos of all the presidential candidates have drawn only a relatively modest number of views on YouTube, both in terms of the actual views per video and the average number of views per video.





Video of the week: Cool stick figure art

October 19, 2007

The end of television: Daily Show goes Internet

October 18, 2007

News:  Jon Stewart’s Daily Show has uploaded all of its shows into short video clips on its website (with ads).  (More

Analysis:  This is the beginning of the end of television as we know it.  All shows will eventually migrate to the Internet.  You won’t need your DVR.   And perhaps one day, in the next generation, the Internet will be the primary destination for entertainment over TV. 

Ron Paul rules YouTube, Fred Thompson flops

October 18, 2007

My second report on the presidential candidate videos on YouTube will be out soon.  Stay tuned.

New York Times features YouTube’s “Chad Vader,” aka Matt Sloan + Aaron Yonda

October 16, 2007

NewsThe New York Times has a feature article today about Matt Sloan and Aaron, two guys in Wisconsin who developed a runaway hit–with over 19 million views–on YouTube called “Chad Vader.”  Chad Vader is Darth Vader’s younger brother, who works, of all places, at a grocery store.

Analysis:  Hilarious.