January 22, 2008
News: The General Counsel of NBC Universal Rick Cotton has stated that NBC supports the ability of users to reuse and remix copyrighted shows. As I reported last week, NBC already allows free download copies of many of its shows on its website. When you couple this free dissemination of NBC copies online with Rick Cotton’s statements, it appears that NBC has bought into the mashup/remix culture of user-generated content that relies upon preexisting copyrighted works.
Here are some of Cotton’s statements:
“They can choose to download commercial free episodes of our TV shows or watch free, streaming, ad-supported programs on our websites. We’ve offered fans material from “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Office” to create mashups. And we expect to expand those offerings both on our websites and on Hulu.com.”
“But, looking forward, one of the exciting characteristics of the new, digital world is that technology will allow us greater flexibility to respond to consumer desires.”
“It bears repeating that short-form mashups, parodies and the like are NOT the primary focus of content owners’ anti-piracy activities. Let’s be clear that sympathy for parodies and “re-interpretations” should not be used as a justification for inaction in addressing aggressively the wholesale trafficking in complete, unchanged copies of movies and TV programs. Having said that, most major content owners today want to see fans fully engage with their favorite content and are working hard to provide legitimate ways to do that.”
Analysis: NBC Universal should be applauded for its stance on remixes and mashups, as well as for allowing free downloading of many of its shows online. If I take Cotton’s statements at face value, he basically gives his blessing to noncommercial remixes of NBC’s copyrighted shows. I would not have expected this kind of position from a Hollywood studio. But I hope NBC doesn’t scale back the free stuff and start selling all of its shows on iTunes (for more, see Mashable).
January 16, 2008
News: You know that the (copyright) times are changing when NBC is now allowing download copies of some of its most popular shows (instead of just watching them online). It’s part of “NBC Direct” (beta) and it’s all free. I’m assuming the free video downloads contain no DRM, but I haven’t verified that yet.
If you go to this menu, you’ll see that over 20 NBC shows are downloadable, including 30 Rock, Law & Order SVU, The Office, ER, and Heroes.
The free downloading of NBC shows is also a little surprising, given the rather hard-line copyright position expressed by Rick Cotton in this NYT debate. I wonder what the difference, as a practical matter, between NBC allowing copying of its free broadcast shows and third parties doing it on their own with their own devices for those very same shows. If the market for free TV shows eventually adopts a free download practice, then the “piracy” rhetoric seems hollow. (Movies are different since they are not usually free, either online or offline.)
November 6, 2007
News: The Barack Obama campaign posted a clip from this weekend’s Saturday Night Live featuring Barack Obama, in a skit making fun of Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic candidates. Newteevee reports that NBC had previously sent YouTube a notice to remove a different copy of the video. But the Obama campaign posted another one — although it’s not clear if with permission from NBC.
Analysis: I think the copyright issue is purely academic at this point. For PR reasons, NBC won’t be going after the Obama campaign for video of Barack Obama himself.
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.)
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.
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?
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)