Today’s NPR segment, “On YouTube, Popularity Can Be a Curse” discussed intellectual property issues in our era of YouTube-posted videos and antiquated copyright laws. One of the main points was that as YouTube videos become “viral hits,” they often draw higher levels of scrutiny which can result in legal demands to take them offline– especially if they include copyrighted content from television.
Jason Fry, assistant managing editor for WSJ.com, asserts in the piece that YouTube is revolutionary because it makes “something that used to be hideously difficult” (posting video to the web, viewing video on the web, and embedding web video in other webpages) relatively easy. He fears, however, that copyright laws could eventually descend and put an end to the popular site. The fact that Google has bought YouTube, however, suggests (to me at least) that savvy lawyers are and will continue to be involved in the ways YouTube license agreements are crafted and content is actively vetted on the site.
The show also included an interview with Fritz Grobe, one of the creators of the now famous Diet Coke and Mentos video (originally posted on EepyBird.) Fritz tells the story of how his movie was grabbed by others, the credits were cut off, and it took months to get YouTube to remove the bootlegged versions which were edited/remixed without permission. Still, those copies were eventually removed successfully, and Fritz (along with his partner in Mentos/Diet Coke fame) are performing in Las Vegas as well as other venues. Apparently a Mentos/Diet Coke sequel is in the works, and will be released officially through Google– and the NPR piece suggests that money traded hands in this deal. So while this side-story involves some whining (“they took my video and removed my credits without permission”) it also seems to have a very happy ending– at least in financial terms for the original video’s creators.
As James Boyle of Duke University noted following that interview, however, the big question is the “And so….” question. Is an Internet with greater levels of control the solution we should be pushing for? An Internet which permitted perfect control over content by content creators might not have permitted a viral video phenomenon like the “Coke and Mentos Fountain” video to ever happen in the first place as a viral video. Would we all be better off without the potential for viral videos to be shared around the world like a flash in the pan? I don’t think so. Our digital environment isn’t perfect today, and IP law certainly needs some revision, but I’m glad we don’t live in a regime where content creators have absolute control. Creative Commons as well as traditional copyright licensing permit content owners to still possess and defend substantial rights to their content. The most exciting thing about the Internet is the aspect of empowering people to discover and share their own voices. I don’t think you can put a pricetag on that.
As I’ve noted before, we live in an era where people can PUBLISH AT WILL. Relevance is and will increasingly be a function of digital accessibility. You want to be relevant? Give away your ideas. Want to become irrelevant? Create a walled garden that keeps out more people than it lets in. You’ll be sure to limit your audience, and therefore reduce your relevance and potential impact on the world.
Sharing ideas. It’s what the Internet was founded for, and what it is still all about. Now if we can just find ways to convince our local school boards of this, and the desirability of involving our students and teachers in this process of collaborative and interactive content creation…..
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On this day..
- Reasons to Invest in Education – 2011
- 3 External Microphone Options for iPads (Nov 2011) – 2011
- Captions and Cross-References for Automatic Page Numbers in MS Word – 2011
- Pennsylvania Newspaper Article / School Tech Director Misrepresents CIPA – 2011
- Ready for the Creativity World Forum #cwf2010 – 2010
- Learning about the amazing iOS Square Credit Card solution – 2010
- Remembering the amazing Grape iMac: 266 mHz with a 6 GB Hard Drive – 2010
- Accessing the web where URL shorteners don’t work? Problem solved with Untiny – 2009
- Branching surveys and self-grading quizzes in Google Forms / Google Docs – 2009
- Ustream chat moderation lessons and Coursecasting opinions – 2008