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.
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.
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.