So you’ve probably heard that Google is acquiring YouTube “for $1.65 billion in stock, the highest price yet paid for a consumer-generated media site.” This is potentially very interesting. We’ll have to wait to see whether this move legitimizes YouTube or delegitimizes Google.
It all depends on how Google deals with the issue of copyright infringment. Which will force Google to challenge its informal corporate motto, “Don’t be evil.” No matter what Google does, one side is going to see them evil. If they crack down hard on users who post music videos or “Daily Show” clips, everyone like us is going to think they’re evil. If they take the same laissez-faire attitude that YouTube took, the copyright owners are going to they’re evil. They can’t win.
Or can they?
As hard as this is to imagine, perhaps the music industry learned a lesson from Napster. Reuters reports that, “Earlier on Monday, Universal Music Group and Sony BMG said they signed distribution deals with YouTube, building on a similar agreement with Warner Music Group last month. Google also signed similar deals Monday with Warner and Sony BMG.” It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out, but it’s probably safe to assume this is going to be an ongoing tug-of-war for control between Google and the labels.
As an organization with a “Director’s account” on YouTube, Glorious Noise realizes the amazing potential of people making and sharing original movies with each other. And as big huge music geeks, we also realize how totally fucking awesome it is to be able to see all those Flying Burrito Brothers videos that would otherwise just rot in commercial archives because even a company with the resources of Rhino is too cheap to license them.
So hopefully Google can just figure out a way to make everybody happy. At least happy enough to not get sued out of existence. And happy enough to not seek out alternative, less centralized ways for users to share the videos they love.