Friday, October 20, 2006

Are Media Companies Stuck?

There's this astounding article on MediaPost (about an article on Marketwatch). It essentially asserts that media companies are in a position where they must simply deal with their copyrighted material on YouTube, not litigate and strike deals. Here's a clip:
"Media companies will be hard-pressed to find the nerve or the incentive to sue Google for its new subsidiary YouTube." Instead, they'll likely secure distribution deals with the search giant--just as three of the four major record companies have already managed to do.
I think this is an unpopular position, but I firmly believe that media owners have a right to vigorously protect their property. I certainly don't like the idea of companies (or their associations-as-proxies) intimidating teenagers and the like, but the fact is that media companies have every right to expect to make money from the works they own. Producing entertainment and selling it is a legitimate business.

Certainly digital technology has changed the balance of power, moving entertainment assets farther away from the distribution barriers that made it easier to make profits. But that doesn't mean that the concept of copyright should go away. It certainly should evolve (and thank Creative Commons for driving that), but open-content should be respected as an option for media owners.

But the argument now seems to be turning. Google (and their money-printing machine) are now at the helm of the most powerful video distribution system ever. The point of the article and the pundits seems to be "you need to just deal with it".

I suppose this may be a good thing. Maybe the media companies are finally backed into a corner so tight that they need to go with the forces. The people at CC often argue that one of the primary problems with current copyright laws is that they are a throttle on the development of culture. Perhaps the size of GooTube is going to finally drive the owners of the content to comply.

But they are going to do so reluctantly.
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