One of my blog readers was so put off by my previous post on the conviction of Google executives that he had no words and could merely express a mixture of surprise and disapproval! “AAARGH! AMAZING! REALLY, AMAZING” – he said very eloquently.
Specifically, I find it surprising that such an event came as a shock. This is hardly the first time a company (and by extension its executive team) has been held accountable or charged. Remember Napster (or Enron)? Google’s case is probably closer to Napster than to Enron’s, but there is a case nevertheless.
In their conviction in a trial in Italy, Google execs’ defense was simply that they were not involved in any way with the production of the video or uploading it onto the viewing platform.
This is a bit like saying: “We didn’t do any beating, we only provided the batons and a nice comfy place to carry out the beating, and umm, yes, we did make it profitable for the people to carry out the beating.”
The only way Google can come out of this is either by spinning out YouTube as a separate entity, or considering this:
A New financial model for YouTube
- When a user uploads a video, the user can only share it with selected group of people (25 email addresses).
- If you want to upload a video and make it available to everyone, you have to pay an entry fee – say 5$. That entry fee pays for your video to be reviewed (for legal violations, ownership, etc) and rated (MPAA or some other rating).
- If your video does get viewed by millions of users, you get a fixed cut at it (0.1 cents per view or some other fraction).
- You should need an account to watch a video.
- You can watch a certain number of videos for free.
- If you want to watch more, you need to pay a fee (NetFlix like monthly fee model)
The thing that jumps out is that NetFlix could become the next LEGAL YouTube. All it needs to do, is to allow users to upload and charge a fee for doing that.
Three Google executives were convicted of privacy violations for allowing a video of an autistic boy being abused to be posted on YouTube.
I have posted about these risk before: here, and here, but obviously I underestimated the scope and severity of these problems. Google will realize, sometime before Q3 2010, that YouTube as a service is basically unsustainable. The video ownership will be a major reason on why that should happen. YouTube will be spun off (that after all is a successful company’s way of washing off its hands of a sick and potentially risky venture).
Consider this video: Laughing Baby from YouTube user BlackOleg. It has 108 million views. That obviously has some monetary value. Now, if you want to get into that action, you could make a video yourself, or you could simply steal this one! Make a copy. Consider this one: Laughing Baby from YouTube user kaihongc – same video, with 8 million views. (And who knows anyway – perhaps the two users are the same, or perhaps the video was really made by kaihongc!)
Glory be to YouTube: you can watch Love Story by Taylor Swift, or Thriller by Michael Jackson. Or a million others. All for only 0$ a month! Nada. Zilch. And while you are there, you can also save the videos! (There are numerous plugins!) So, what does this mean? Anyone can upload videos, and then anyone can download. You can upload your laughing nephew, or the latest song by Black Eyed Peas. Then, your buddies can download it.
Holy cow, isn’t this the kool aid that brought Napster down? Only difference is now Google is doing it better (video > audio). And it is OK?
Hmm, something in there is a mystery or the reason why YouTube is working out to be a pretty bad investment for Google. Not even mentioning 300 million $ Google is spending streaming those videos per year, or the fact that Google hasn’t made any significant money from it yet.
It may appear for a while that Google’s mechanism to block copyrighted content are good. But it is only a matter of time before the Metallica of YouTube will emerge. They don’t call America the land of the lawsuits for nothing.