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Saturday, April 07, 2007

YouTube Can Live Without Big Media

The legal battle between YouTube and Big Media just received an interesting piece of evidence: videos with copyrighted content (like Daily Show clips) do not dominate YouTube viewership. This is not good news for Viacom and other Big Media companies suing Google to prevent posting of copyrighted video on YouTube.

Big Media's copyrighted videos that were removed by YouTube comprised 9 percent of all videos on the site. And, surprisingly, those videos represent only 6 percent of total views. Yes, some copyrighted content surely remains on YouTube with less obvious tags making them more difficult for copyright holders to identify and demand removal. So those numbers are a bit higher in reality. But likely not orders of magnitude higher. If clips are under the radar of copyright owners, they are probably under the radar of YouTube users as well, not making any most viewed lists or generating many hits.

Even if copyrighted videos are 12 percent of total views, the vast majority of YouTube users are not watching Big Media content. This may not slow Viacom's lawsuit against Google, as one Wired News commentator said, but it may slow Google's willingness or need to settle. Google could remove all Viacom's content and go on its merry way, still enjoying robust and growing usership. It has past its tipping point.

In fact, stripped of Big Media content, YouTube's business model and usage might evolve even more rapidly. Instead of becoming the iTunes of Big Media video clips, who knows what YouTube could morph into? Or it may lead artists to re-think deals with Big Media companies that blocks their content from reaching the mass audiences on online social networks like YouTube.

Categories: media, YouTube

2 comments:

Nick said...

Google could remove all Viacom's content and go on its merry way, still enjoying robust and growing usership. It has past its tipping point.

I thought that was the whole rub about the lawsuit anyway, the supposed inability of YouTube to tell which videos are Viacom property. I'm in total agreement that YouTube could succeed without Viacom content (at least at this point in time). However, don't you think that if YouTube could remove all of Viacom's videos (w/o takedown notices saying which videos are which) they already would have?

Jeff Kaplan said...

No question that identifying copyrighted content is not always easy. And the problem will get worse as technology makes video mash-ups even easier to create.

I expect that GooTube takes down copyrighted content as soon as it is identified, and continues to develop screeners to find it themselves. Won't be perfect though, and the question is what's good enough?

Viacom in its lawsuit claims that perfection is required. We shall see.