News: Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has an excellent article analyzing some of the potential copyright problems that YouTube might face if copyright holders attempted to enforce their copyrights on content being uploaded onto YouTube. For now, most copyright holders (such as the music and movie industries) haven’t, although this could change. As Johnson explains:
“NBC Universal digital content chief Jeff Gaspin said it doesn’t bother him that, for instance, almost every moment of the romantic comedy’s central relationship, between office-mates Jim and Pam, is now up on YouTube, some 15 videos of eight or so minutes apiece amounting, in total, to almost a mini-version of the Season 2 Two DVD set.
“If the Internet helps create buzz for us, great,” Gaspin said, reasoning that the Jim and Pam relationship could join TV classics like such as Sam and Diane (“Cheers”) and Ross and Rachel (“Friends”), but first viewers have to find out about it.
“When you take into account NBC’s moderate shift in stance, and, for instance, Comedy Central’s wink-and-a-nod at the proliferation of “Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” clips that users upload, you understand that many copyright holders seem to be deciding that the promotional value of YouTube appearances is more valuable than any revenue that might be gained by forcing users to the holders’ own Web sites.
“But others aren’t so sanguine. Last week, Doug Morris, CEO of the giant Universal Music Group, was speaking of YouTube and the less-copyright-dependent MySpace when he said, “These new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars.”
Analysis: Copyright is the 64 thousand — or million — dollar question for YouTube. Part of its current success rests on copyright holders taking at least a “wait and see” attitude before running pell mell to sue YouTube for alleged copyright infringement. So far, this ”wait and see” attitude seems prudent for businesses, as YouTube generates a lot of free advertising for copyrighted material. YouTube has the millions of eyeballs that copyright holders want.