Sometimes it pays to listen

I wrote, shortly after Google bought YouTube, that this purchase was a potential windfall for YouTube copyright claimants however recent happenings are proving me wrong (imagine that!).
Prof Tim Wu (Professor of Law at Columbia) wrote recently in an article in Slate that YouTube (or GooTube as people are now taking to calling it):

is in much better legal shape than anyone seems to want to accept. The site enjoys a strong legal “safe harbor,” a law largely respected by the television and film industries for the choices it gives them.

Prof Wu went on to say:

if Jon Stewart notices an infringing copy of The Daily Show on YouTube, Comedy Central can write a letter to YouTube and demand it be taken down. Then, so long as YouTube acts “expeditiously” and so long as YouTube wasn’t already aware that the material was there, YouTube is in the clear.

This comment was very prescient because Boing Boing has posted news that YouTube has taken down all copies of the Daily Show!

ComedyCentral have their own online video site where people can view the Daily Show but as the blog An Unreasonable Man said of Comedy Central:

the YouTube video player works. Your video player? Not so much… Here’s why:

1. You have tiny little videos that can’t be resized. It’s like watching TV from the next room through the keyhole of a closed door.
2. You use javascript to launch a popup window. Therefore, I can’t send a link to my friends or put a link on my blog to direct people to the video highlight I want them to see.
3. Your popup window can’t be opened in a tab or resized. Give me control of my browser back.
4. Your popup window has an obnoxious background that I’m afraid is going to give me a seizure.
5. Next to your video, there’s an ad that’s bigger than the video. Firefox blocks it, but I can’t decide which is worse: the hole that remains in the background, or the background.
6. When I open a YouTube page, the video starts to play. Isn’t that cool? On your page, I sit and think about how much you suck while the video buffers. The video plays for about 3 seconds until it over-runs and starts buffering again. …and that’s with DSL. It must be completely useless at slower connection speeds.
7. With YouTube, I can embed the videos in my own website. When I visit a site I’m more likely to watch a video if its right there and I can just push play. You’re at least five years away from developing that technology.
8. YouTube’s search feature also works, conveniently allowing me to find what I’m looking for. At your site I end up looking through a list of videos.

If ComedyCentral are no longer going to allow YouTube to distribute the Daily Show, they should at least have a credible alternative in place. If they don’t, people will go elsewhere for their entertainment. In the era of the Long Tail, it isn’t as if we are stuck for choice.

Sometimes your users know better than you – sometimes it pays to listen.

One thought on “Sometimes it pays to listen”

  1. Well maybe if Comedy Central got a kick back from the advertising revenue generated from all the eyeballs watching their stuff on YouTube they’d be more inclined to leave the content there. I don’t recall Jon Stewart signing on to fill Google’s coffers for nothing, which is what the situation currently is.

    This is just another case of Google *must be good* so therefore everyone else *must be bad*. And if anyone in the US wants the Daily Show online they can buy it from the iTMS for a buck ninty nine per episode or $9.99 for 16 episodes, without ads.

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