YouTubed, YouDoomed?

Is Mark Cuban right? In his post The Coming Dramatic Decline of Youtube. Mark is making a gazillion valid points. Yes, YouTube’s “business” is based upon inciting copy right infringements on a massive scale. Yes, the other part is the Come to our website and use our video hosting services, we can party like its 1999 all over again ! And yes, the whole model is fairly easy to copy. Even for the most obtuse copyright owner (at least the technology).

But his obituary for might be a bit premature. Think about it. Mark is wondering, why it is that until Universal Music Group apparently started to put the pressure on them, no one had sued them. Considering the RIAA will sue your grandma or a 12 year old at the drop of a hat, the fact that Youtube is building a traffic juggernaut around copyrighted audio and video without being sued is like…. well Napster at the beginning as the labels were trying t written to figure out what it meant to them. With the MGM vs Grokster ruling, its just a question of when Youtube will be hit with a charge of inducing millions of people to break copyright laws , not if.

Thing is: the YouTube model might have 1999 written all over. But there are some things copyrights holder presumably learned in the past seven years.

– killing Napster didn’t do a thing. Instead of one single (and thereby controllable) place, the darknet became just a little darker.

– offering legit spaces isn’t a sure path to success. Defunct download portals are littering the way back engine and the balance sheets of quite some formidable companies. Sony Connect, anybody?

– a virtual monopoly by Napster would have been nice: take the law stick, and beat them into submission. Try this with Steve Jobs.

Sure, you could build an online radio out of YouTube songs. Sure, you could download everything, too (if you insist). But why bother, as a copyright holder? Make them clean up their act (finger printing for background music, blanket licensing deals), make them bleed, let them do your marketing, and let them foot the bill.

At least, that would be true for the whole music industry. If you’re a nobody, YouTube might make you a star. If you’re a soso-somebody, YouTube put’s your videos On Air (whilst MTV is even rejecting your emails). If you’re a big act, you make YouTube pay. So everyone’s a winner.
With video content, it’s a bit more difficult. The basic difference: if you like a song, you’ll listen to it over and over (until your next door neighbor threatens to call the cops). Moving images is different. Watching the same movie over and over again is all you need if you’re in the three to nine age bracket. Otherwise it’s pretty straightforward: you watch it, you dump it (or collect it, and never watch it again).

Videos are like jokes: you heard the punch line, and that’s it. And don’t try any reruns on me (heard/watched this one before). That makes the video sharing ecosphere a bit more complicated. Let’s try to structure it a bit. It’s mostly about one time events vs serialized entertainment. For serialized stuff, the YouTube are a sure winner. People take out snippets they like. The best ones get traction and multiply by themselves. With one time events, it depends on your goals.

Just some ideas thrown in: Most theatrical releases need the big screen anyway. Maybe a director’s cut on DVD would be fine, too. But a pixelated Flash movie on a PC screen? Movies can gain a lot. Look at Borat – The Movie. Ali G.’s everywhere, from MySpace to vSocial to veoh. Legit posts mixed with user uploads. Hey, makes me want to watch the real thing.
Shorts can make you famous. Film and people aggregators like YouTube can’t make you rich, but make you famous. But if your business depends on selling just this one film, you’re dead.

But what’s that supposed to YouTube? The rumors of its death are slightly exaggerated. But if they don’t get a hold on a whole lot of stupid money pretty soon, they might just wish those rumors would have been true. Because dredging along is a rather exhausting exit.