Saturday, December 02, 2006

"GooTube" licenses music, won't protect users.

I have a cover band and registered on YouTube with a musicians account. After the deal between Time Warner and "GooTube" was announced, I contacted YouTube to see if we would now be able to share audio and video clips of us performing copyrighted songs using their service. FYI, Time Warner owns the copyright for a large portion of copyrighted music. I included a list of possible songs and also requested information on which songs might be available for us to post as a result of this "licensing agreement". The response was the same old diatribe about me accepting the risk of being sued for copyright infringement, and that I needed to consult legal counsel if I intended to post copyrighted content. Blah, blah, blah! In other words, the "deal" is useless to the users of the service. I'm pretty sure they didn't even read my email. It seemed like a standard reply to any email with the subject "copyright issue".

Just because others choose to ignore copyright laws and post copyrighted material without compensating the rights holder, that does not mean I will do that, especially since a licensing deal is in place that should allow that very thing to occur legally. The existence of a licensing deal implies the right to post the content has been purchased. A deal for the site to not be sued is in no way a deal for me not to be sued. Until the "licensing" deal applies to the users who will actually post the content, it in effect does not exist.

If Google hopes to sustain the site long term it will have to make the service legal for legitimate users. I guarantee that my little cover band will do nothing to dent retail CD sales. It's more likely we could increase sales of CDs of the original artists when people get reminded of their favorite songs and want to hear them in their cars and at work. Google's use of context sensitive ads such as what is in place in Gmail and on Google Search could make this site a viable business model.

If they want to keep people coming to the site they will have to allow them to post content. This is what the entire site is based upon. My band is not a business, it is a hobby. YouTube is the exact type of site that should allow us to post videos of us performing popular music. The site is based on that type of post (among others). They even have a membership category for bands. Making a deal with the copyright holder not to sue THEM is really only half a deal. If the users don't trust Google to provide them with a safe place to post content that Google itself has already licensed, then the users disappear. Once these sites (Google Video, YouTube) become a place for Google ONLY to post content, the users will be gone so fast Google won't know what hit them. The test will be to see if they even care.

I've already had to tell some fans that they won't be able to find samples of our performances there. They may never get to see them if Google doesn't get their site in order. The new site nickname should be UseLose, because the users are becoming the losers.

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