The war over copyright, episode 3,672

This business between “content creators” and Google/YouTube continues to baffle, and I wanted to take a few moments today to make a couple of points.

When was the last time anybody sent you a clip from The Daily Show or The Colbert Report?

Thought so.

There’s renewed buzz that all these “content” folks are going to build their own portal to put all their clips in one place. This is something they should have done a long time ago, but there’s that old competitive thing. Will they actually do it? Will they create their own online “spectrum?”

The bigger question is will people frequent the joint if they do? People aren’t exactly knocking down the walls of Viacom websites to get at all those clips, so I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

The Wall St. Journal had one of those “inside sources” pieces this morning explaining that the content boys have Google by the short hairs, because they can prove the great god took money from a site that served illegal downloads. The story quotes “people close to the negotiations” and tries hard to paint a picture of Google as a monster out to bring about the demise of the copyright cartel and profit from it at the same time. It’s just so unfair!

You know, I support our laws and agree that these people have a bone to pick with, well, somebody over the gobs of money they think they could’ve made if they’d thought of YouTube first. To lose money, however, you first have to have made it, and that’s not the case with YouTube.

Moreover, the problem isn’t Google, it’s their own customers. You can make or enforce laws blocking profit-making from taking place in the “illegal” use of copyrighted material, but you cannot stop people from being people. Steve Jobs is telling the record industry to give it up, because hackers will always beat DRM. It’s just technology, after all, and nobody has a lock on that.

What we need is to rethink things like copyright and authorship, so that we don’t try and force industrial age concepts on the digital world. We want unbundled content, and that’s what we’re going to have. That’s not okay with the copyright police, because they’re stuck in a command-and-control mindset.

Nobody’s trying to rob anybody, except the copyright industry. After all, their greed gave us $18 CDs, one-third of prime time devoted to commercials, and forcing people to pay at the theater to sit through 20 minutes of ads. Is enough ever enough for these people?

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