The real battle in the TV vs YouTube war

A front page Wall Street Journal article today examines the history and the conflict between television companies and Google over YouTube and its hosting of copyrighted materials. It’s a pretty fair read with a couple of interesting quotes: (The article is behind the paper’s subscription wall, so I won’t provide a link.)

“The problem the media companies have in dealing with Google is that we’re not in a position of strength,” acknowledges a senior executive at one of the companies.”

…the current strife might eventually prove to be no more than hard-nosed negotiating…

Mr. Schmidt (Google’s Eric) said late last month that he was sure Google “will eventually do some very significant deals” with TV companies, but suggested that none were imminent. “I’m not in a great hurry on this issue,” he said. “It’s more important to get it right.”

There is more at stake in this battle than meets the eye, for the very nature of contemporary copyright law is what’s being challenged. It’s a touchpoint between the controlled distribution of modernism and the shared distribution of postmodernism, and I don’t think anybody really knows where it’s all heading.

I do know that the whole concept of copyright needs to be reexamined by lawmakers, because the public interest is not served by current law. Content creators aren’t served by it either, only the copyright holders — the élite and tightly-controlled world of music, film, video, print and artistic publishers — is benefited, and this artificial government only has itself to blame for its current conundrum.

There’s a motive for creativity that’s rarely discussed in the light of copyright, but it’s expressed in many ways through creative works.

Harry Chapin’s “Mr. Tanner:” “Music was his life; it was not his livelihood.”

Bill Monroe, when I interviewed him in 1979: “I never wrote any songs; I just heard them before anybody else.”

From The Agony and the Ecstasy: “We’re artists. We’ll always be a slave to another man’s nickel.”

The movie “Crossroads” about an old blues musician: “Lots of towns, lots of songs, lots of women, good times, bad times. All he ever wanted to hear anybody say was, ‘He was good. He could really play.’ ”

Jeong-Hyun Lim (funtwo) in response to all the fuss about his “Canon in D” video on YouTube: “Some said my vibrato is quite sloppy, and I agree with that, so these days I’m doing my best to improve my vibrato skill.” The guy uttered not a word about money. It was all about his music.

So as we watch this whole thing unfold, let’s remember that this is really a cultural war underway. I don’t say that one side is right and the other wrong, because I don’t think that’s really the issue. However, the victor will write the rules for the future, and we ought to be prepared for it to go either way.

Comments

  1. You can get free access into that Wall Street Journal article with a netpass from: http://news.congoo.com

    This was in several blogs last week.

  2. Terry:

    I think your last paragraph sums it up nicely. All across the media landscape, companies are fighting to control intellectual property. That’s understandable. After all, a big part of copyright/IP protections are that they give creators incentives to create. But somehow that’s got to be balanced with the realities of the age we’re in, where consumers can appropriate and reshape content at will. Interesting that IBM today called for media companies to free their content. See the MediaPost article here: http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=55916&Nid=27671&p=364453

Trackbacks

  1. […] I write it; you own it; that’s not right Filed under: Content business — John McCann @ 1:33 pm A recent post by Terry Heaton delves into the issues behind the attempts by Google to convince the TV networks, and other copyright holders, to put their content on YouTube. According to Heaton, this situation is part of a bigger cultural and legal issue. “There is more at stake in this battle than meets the eye, for the very nature of contemporary copyright law is what’s being challenged. It’s a touchpoint between the controlled distribution of modernism and the shared distribution of postmodernism, and I don’t think anybody really knows where it’s all heading. […]

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