News: Tech billionaire (and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) Mark Cuban has written on his blog today what sounds like a polemic against YouTube. Cuban sees YouTube’s popularity as palming off a bunch of copyright infringement of music and videos. Not one to mince words, Cuban basically predicted the demise of YouTube once copyright holders start enforcing their copyrights.
Analysis: Cuban made his post before realizing that Warner Music had just announced its big deal with YouTube. He even had to update it later on to acknowledge the deal, but only begrudgingly. Cuban then dismisses the deal as insignificant:
“Does this make a difference in my thinking ? Not at all. In fact its reminds me of when Bertelsman cut a deal with Napster. It sure sounded nice, but didnt amount to much of anything. Kudos to WMG for giving them a chance and probably leveraging the hell out of Youtubes traffic, but this is just one copyright owner out of the thousands, if not tens of thousands owning copyrights that are most likely being illegally used on Youtube.”
I think Cuban is wrong. YouTube is not Napster because Napster wasn’t about video clips. The big difference with YouTube is that the movie and TV studios can potentially profit immensely from the viral advertising of snippets of their copyrighted works. The short clips on YouTube typically don’t substitute for the actual works. And when you have the attention of millions of Internet users each day, for an average of 15 odd minutes, you have a bonanza for advertising. That’s why major networks like NBC have agreed to license content on YouTube.