Tuesday, September 11, 2007

All I have heard about since I missed MTV's Video Music Awards Sunday night is what a huge disaster Britney Spears's "comeback" performance was. She had lame dance moves. She looked pudgy. She tried to lip synch (badly). She tripped on stage. She was drinking before the show.

Even celebs are throwing their two cents in. Kanye West jumped to her defense while Donald Trump, once a supporter of a Brit comeback, called her performance "disgraceful".

So of course I had to check out the infamous pop star in all her newfound glory for myself.

I headed to YouTube, searched for "Britney Spears, Gimme More" and there it was. But when I clicked on the link all I got was a banner proclaiming:

This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Viacom
International Inc.
In my next search, through Google, I stumble upon the Machinist, where blogger Farhad Manjoo informs me

Viacom is MTV's corporate parent and a YouTube archrival. The company has
Google, YouTube's parent, seeking remuneration for the many Viacom
videos people
have watched on YouTube. So it's understandable the company
would quickly
pull down its wares from YouTube -- and, as this search shows,
completely ridiculous, because rather than helping you watch its
videos, Viacom is standing in your way.

Don't worry, you can still get to the video, but exclusivley on MTV's Buzzworthy
blog. How would you know? Because MTV has conveniently placed a sponsored ad
right there on your Google search page.

MTV and Viacom are not the only ones getting huffy about people watching their videos on just any old site.

Steven Colbert's bitingly sarcastic speech at the 2006 White House
Correspondence Dinner was ordered taken down from sites like YouTube.com and ifilm.com by C-Span, the original network to air the speech. A short time later the full video was posted at c-span.org and a DVD could be purchased online.

In another Viacom incident, Chris Knight made a humorous Board of Education campaign commercial and posted the video to YouTube. VH1 picked it up and featured it on their Web Junk 2.0 show. When Knight tried to post the new segment of the show featuring his video on YouTube, he was informed it was copyright infringement and that Viacom was pulling the video.

So how justified is a company in pulling a free video off of YouTube to post it for free somewhere else? Is it just to get the hits on their own site?

Does taking something off YouTube and putting it on a company site affect how viral something is? I doubt Miss Teen SC would have gotten as many hits if her clip was solely posted on NBC.

And what about Viacom playing both sides? How is it fair for a large corporation to throw its weight around on the little man?

One of YouTube's many appeals is that anyone can post, watch, search and use it for free, from high schoolers to digital videographers. I hope that situations like these will not undermine the foundation of social media outlets like YouTube.

1 comment:

Chris Knight said...

Dear Lauren,
This is Chris Knight, the guy who had the YouTube clip of the VH1 show using my original commercial, which Viacom had yanked. Thanks for your interest in this. Wanted to let you know that on Tuesday night this week I received an e-mail from YouTube informing me that the clip had been restored following my filing a DMCA counter-notification claim.

There is more about it at http://theknightshift.blogspot.com/2007/09/viacom-situation-update-youtube-has.html

I also wanted to let you know that I was delighted to find out that this blog is run by students at the University of Georgia. My wife was a student at UGA when we first started dating, so I got to know the school quite a bit. Although I never studied there, I'm proud to call myself an honorary Bulldog fan :-)

Take care and God bless,
Chris Knight