Are You Disappointed with the Grown Up Corporate YouTube Yet?

Sometime in early 2010, possibly late 2009, YouTube changed its copyright policies for whatever reason… and lost its edge.

The precise time isn’t important. Nor is the exact reasons why. This isn’t a history documentary. Just a commentary on the state of things.

I first noticed it during the Winter Olympics in 2010, in trying to find clips about which I blogged. There was either nothing, or poorly labeled posts that were taken down sometimes just hours after being put up. I thought the Olympics legal machine had threatened YouTube into temporary submission, but those egomaniacs can go smash their egos elsewhere because this was something much bigger happening.

It seemed YouTube changed conditions of what it allowed to be posted to be something like this.

1. If the obvious true copyright owners of the videos did nothing, they would be left on. That is, you’d have to file a claim of some sort to have any action taken. You’d have to prove it somehow, like if it were a legitimate music video, cut from a show, etc. I’m not sure about just the music track used being copyrighted.

2. The copyrighted videos could be left on with (Google word?) ad revenues in return.

3. The copyrighted videos could be left on but embedding had to be disabled.

4. The copyright videos could be left on with one of several targeted commercials at the start… which is REALLY annoying because they’re unexpected since most videos seem NOT to have one.

5. The copyrighted videos could be removed… en masse. This last change was the killer because YouTube seemed to have done it for entire clients, like Bob Dylan’s videos. I was disappointed a lot of Bob Dylan videos, and performances of his songs, disappeared just like that from YouTube. Not only was I disappointed in YouTube in this case, I was disappointed in Bob. I thought he was cooler than that. Really, does the man need any money? But it’s about the only thing Bob’s done that’s ever disappointed me, and that’s more than I can say for pretty much anyone else I know.

It seemed anything that qualified as “fan creation”, meaning it wasn’t just clipped or taken directly as was continuously from some source, was allowed to remain on YouTube, though. It seemed to also have applied to such fan vids using what should be copyrighted sound tracks. Maybe YouTube was being hypocritical to say it was in the video business so music copyright didn’t apply to it. I don’t know.  But that seems to have been the outcome from certain videos I see and don’t see of the same music tracks that remained or were removed from YouTube.

In doing this, YouTube went from rebel teenager to responsible adult overnight. The company that once posted everything and gave the finger at anyone who complained of copyright was now waving another finger to a different beat at those who posted stuff that shouldn’t be on there.

Worse, not long after YouTube first “took down” the videos for copyright, it even removed the message about why the video was being removed. It left a black screen that did nothing, as if the poster screwed up technologically.

Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! You are still an adolescent, YouTube, in behaving like that!

Now, being like many people who got used to YouTube, I still went there to search for videos. However, I kept hitting snags of removed videos that were still searchable. Then YouTube remedied that annoyance and now I just find videos I like, share with friends, only to have some removed just days later. They must have a notification system on because there would be just too many videos to have people actually monitor them for potential copyright infringement.

Recently, however, I hit my breaking point with YouTube. I had had enough of its corporate behaviour. It wasn’t the YouTube that attracted me in the first place. So now I just search for videos on Google, under the “Video” category, and look for alternatives to YouTube first. I admit I still end up going to YouTube half the time, but that’s half the time and a lot less frustration than I used to have because I now have a grasp of what videos I see on YouTube that might not be removed days later.

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So where am I going the other half of the time that I don’t go to YouTube for videos?

No one particular place, really, but I’m finding out a lot of other great video sources.

I like the Chinese youku.com (means excellent and cool) and Tudou.com (literally potato net, thought it sounds like Vietnamese for freedom). Once again, Made in China as trumped Made in the USA. Can you imagine that? I never thought I’d be saying that about Internet services, especially considering the Internet censorship in China. But they only seem to care about Communist propaganda or anti-Communist stuff. They have all kinds of stuff on Youku and Tudou you won’t find on YouTube these days! Furthermore, they don’t have a 20 minute video limit that YouTube had upped from its original 10 minute limit as late as last year. Maybe YouTube did it to compensate for the copyright move. It certainly freed up server space and bandwidth (info flow from loading up videos) with all the videos it removed! Pick your favourite historical massacre and compare the videocide to it!

I mean, really. This is just for sharing and fun. It’s like free preview in poor quality. If the people like it enough, they’ll go buy the real thing from you. You’ll probably sell more copies on that business model. The copyright pundits should really just GET OVER IT! People like me just go elsewhere to find the same things… and then trash them for it.

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But what could YouTube have done?

Well, for one thing, they could have come up here to Canada. Our dollar is still cheaper.

And our copyright laws are so worthless we didn’t even bother copyrighting them!

Anything done politically to try and change them is just a facade. The result would allow a politician to say we’ve got this and that going, but it wouldn’t address the issue and get the money to the right people who own the copyright. Lawyers or organizations fighting on behalf of the people and such would get the revenues. If one does get any revenues, the fees paid to register to get it would cut a lot of it away for most people, or a few would benefit from the lack of gains by the many. Good old capitalism at its best… though without true free market forces. Just greedy bastards out to get you and make themselves look good at the same time.

It’s just a thought. But I’d be stupid to think YouTube would listen. It’s all grown up now and lost all sense of adventure. I just refer to it as BooTube now, even though I know that name’s been copyrighted.

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.4

Sidney Crosby Olympics OT Golden Goal Video from Five Broadcasts

There were so many great moments during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Yet, there was hardly any footage to be found on YouTube. YouTube had pretty much succumbed to Olympics pressure and I, for one, blogging a lot about those moments, was very disappointed not to be able to show clips with my blog posts.

A bit ironic, don’t you think? An organization that has a generation named after it deliberately blocking out some defining moments lived by that generation! We had a defining cultural moment here in Canada with Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal, and YouTube wouldn’t let it be put online. Canada could have crushed Susan Boyle’s Britain Got Talent audition video in days if YouTube only had that Sidney Crosby golden goal video online… the way our players crushed American hearts. Call it a 100 million hits lost opportunity as I’m sure we Canadians would have watched it 4 times over within a week, easily, to get that total.

However, the screws are loosening. See the video below added much later than this post date. It is a compilation from five broadcasts for five times the glory! Nice stuff!

I love it!

Get an iPhone to Judge Coldplay versus Satriani Plagiarism

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Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani

Guitarist Joe Satriani and his lawyer are going to be serving Coldplay official legal notice of his intent to sue Coldplay over plagiarism at the Grammy Award weekend. Coldplay’s Viva La Vida supposedly has some close similarities to Satriani’s If I Could Fly. See videos at the end to see and hear for yourself. However, Satriani and his lawyer will not be serving the papers Grammy Awards night as had been previously reported. That would have been a brilliant move, I thought, even if very cold play, for lack of a better description.

What I want to know is why a judge is really needed for this court case?

Has anyone tried to see if the Apple iPhone’s Audio Recognition application could make the call? Please let me know if you have!

To me, the two songs have core parts to them so similar I’d bet the iPhone‘s Audio Recognition application could make the call if it had the two pieces of music and dates for which came first!

If someone is reading this with an iPhone and the conditions mentioned above for valid testing exists, please try it out and let me know! I’m dying to know!

Coldplay

Coldplay

But my point here is it’s a no brainer! I’m an amateur musician and an avid music listener. I know the nature of music well enough to make an informed decision on how close something might be for copyright infringement. Of course, that’s not always easy, but this one is… and you don’t need to be a musician to decide.

The first short video below makes the case pretty well to highlight the main passages. It’s only a short video because EMI, Coldplay’s record label, somehow managed to convince YouTube to pull other such comparison videos for comparison. Those videos had millions of views, apparently, to the mere 292K one below. But EMI, being a music distributor who’s had to face the power of the Internet for years now, was still too stupid to realize it could remove it all and keep it all off YouTube.

Even some groups of idiots never learn.

You go, Joe!!!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.2

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Joe Satriani vs Coldplay Controversy

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Joe Satriani – If I Could Fly

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Coldplay – Viva La Vida

Why Government Should Leave Digital Music Copyright Alone

Nine Inch Nails’ Ghost I-IV was the best selling MP3 album on Amazon.com in 2008 despite legally being available for free download under Creative Commons licence. Seems to me the music market is working just fine that a good product sells well. Why, then, government should do something about digital music copyright and downloading?

Nine Inch Nails' Ghost I-IV album cover

Nine Inch Nails' Ghost I-IV album cover

I’m seriously asking you for an answer to that question, not setting myself up to give you an answer. I’m a government regulatory analyst, and I know a little about regulations. Maybe just a little, but at least a little. However, I’ll speak for myself here and not government.

One of my main philosophies about regulations and government involvement is not to get involved when we don’t have to get involved. Seeing NIN’s success above, I am tempted to tell anybody complaining about lost revenue from free downloading to try a new business model of giving it away while also making it available for sale. After further analysis, I will!

Amazon is the second biggest seller of MP3s next to iTunes, though selling only 10-20% of all MP3s (US sales only for fair comparison), pending which source you believe. However, it is a big enough sampling to make the result valid. Imagine how much you’d trust a poll of 10% of all Canadians or Americans instead of one of these 1,100 people polls that’s within 2.5% 19 times out of 20.

Amazon does differ from iTunes with respect to what is called Digital Rights Management (DRM). An MP3 you buy from Amazon will play on anything you have whereas iTunes tracks only play on select Apple products. Amazon also doesn’t sell any music with DRM due to the record labels’ greed so a lot of music NIN might have competed against wasn’t available for purchase on Amazon. However, there was plenty of competition. Viva la Vida by Coldplay, top selling album on iTunes, was available on Amazon… at #2. So throw out that argument. Despite Amazon’s relatively small marketshare, the sampling is accurate, as claimed.

Coldplay

Coldplay

Ghost I-IV was not released on iTunes in case you wanted the reverse comparison. I can see the logic why iTunes would not take it given it was available for free download, but I’m not sure if it was NIN who decided not to release it there. Still, revenue lost for iTunes and they should pay attention if it were they who did not take it.

Reviews, particularly customer reviews since it is they who buy the albums, can really answer the product quality question with regards to sales. Rolling Stone reviews for Ghost I-IV was at 3.5 stars of five, just like reviews for Viva la Vida. Interestingly enough, customer reviews on the same site was 4.5 stars for Ghost I-IV and 4.0 stars for Viva la Vida. On Amazon, given they distribution of ratings, if you do the math, you’ll see Ghost I-IV edged out Viva la Vida 4.11 to 4.03 (as of Jan 28 evening). Now you know why Ghost I-IV edged out Viva la Vida.

There is the moral argument to do what is right to protect intellectual property. Some musicians are upset people swap their songs and give them away due to lack of copyright laws deterring the public from doing so. Considering the small portion of musicians in this situation among the whole general public, I’d bet anything the social joys the general public derives from being able to swap digital music tracks outweigh the social pains incurred by the musicians. Besides, people are doing what’s right in the NIN case in buying it, still, and success was obtained with a good product.

Next is the astounding fact that NIN’s main audience is the young Net generation who are Net saavy and who would no doubt know how and where to download the free album. That’s the free album they hyped to be available for free, not kept quiet about. This wasn’t a case where old people dominating the demographics and scaring us about health care’s economic burden in the next decade were buying cause they didn’t know how to download torrent discographies.

Honestly, I don’t know what to make of NIN’s success. Is this a case of Freakonomics where economics were just wacky? Probably not. How’s about Predictably Irrational hidden forces that shape our decisions? Maybe, but I’m more optimistic than that. Free usually makes us do other things rather than pay for the free stuff. However, this is a perfect case where behavioral economics trumps economics that’s for logical Vulcans who would never do such a thing as pay for free stuff. Behavioral economics wouldn’t have to explain this, for one thing, just use it as an exact model. How’s about Wikinomics, the economics of free? Well, it’s not mass collaboration, but it is the economics of free. Emotional Intelligence? Very possibly. There is an innate goodness natural to all of us. I like to believe that even if people weren’t breaking the law to get NIN’s album for free, they knew the right thing to do was to buy it and many did. Compound that with the digital generation main audience that has such a sense of entitlement to everything, want everything for free and demand instant gratification, I must say they have regained some level of respect from me.

But does it matter what is the reason behind NIN’s success? Maybe, but I’m willing to bet it’s nothing so unique it won’t work with other such attempts by other music artists. All I know is I have one darn good example that trumps a lot of things. I only wish I had more such examples of a well-known band putting out a quality product that could compete with most others and would likely show similarly successful outcomes, though I don’t mean #1. NIN’s #1 result might have been a small anomaly to be ranked so high, but I don’t doubt good success can be had by other quality albums popular with people. That is, I think this success can be replicated by similar business models done by other good bands with good products. But having NIN at #1 shows the model can work at the extremes, not just in the middle. That’s all I need to know to say that the Canadian federal government should burn its Bill C-61 copyright law reform efforts for winter heat.

It’s also enough for me to tell anybody wanting such copyrights to get with the times, get a new business model or, if they annoy me enough, to get a better product!

If you don’t agree, please, do tell me why in the Comments section below. Thank you.

p.s. As self-disclosure for factors potentially influencing my point of view, I have a small interest in songwriting and recording. It is not my main source of income and I never want it to be. However, I will pledge right here that if I ever release any music recording, it will either have Creative Commons free download to it only, or any money made from it will go to charity in its entirety… and you can quote me on that!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.6