Viacom’s “fight to the death”

New numbers from Hitwise show that both YouTube and Viacom have picked up growth in web traffic since things got messy between the two.

Hitwise graphs show YouTube and Viacom both grew

But this whole thing isn’t about web traffic, copyright, or monetizing this thing or that. What’s really happening here is a whole lot bigger than it appears. Google can afford to simply bide their time, because the real business disruption moves forward with or without an agreement with Viacom.

The problem for Viacom, Umair Haque writes, is that one of its key properties, MTV, has been hypercommoditized by YouTube. Music videos (legal) are a big part of YouTube, as are reality shows (legal user-generated creations). So what’s left for MTV? Had Viacom been a part of the solution instead of the problem, MTV could easily have been YouTube today. This leads Haque to conclude — correctly, I think — that for Viacom “this is really kind of a fight to the death.”

Meanwhile, a new user-generated animation site has launched., and it will pose further problems for the copyright industry, not because people will upload copyrighted material, but because technology is making animation easier for a lot more people.

And the first real project in Jay Rosen’s experiment in open-source journalism — Assignment Zero — launched today. Funded by, Wired Magazine and others, it’s a serious attempt to do investigative journalism from a new direction, and it’s yet another example of the people formerly known as the audience getting involved in this thing we call media.

This is the heart of Media 2.0, and it’s why we all need to think carefully about how we approach this world. Everything is counterintuitive here, and we really need to adjust our view to see what’s really taking place.

It really isn’t about copyright at all.

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