According to the Wall Street Journal, YouTube has double pinky swore to Warner Brothers that it will implement some kind of technology in order to credit Warner artists will royalties based on music played on its submitted videos. The deal will surely be the first among many the big labels will be inking with the likes of YouTube and Google Video. Although this isn't the first time the free transfer of information has been attacked (remember Napster v.
Metallica?), it's ramifications could have a much greater reach among the proliferation of "show me" technologies like the posting of personal videos, pictures and music - many of which include derivative works. (Another issue [art form] which has been unduly and systematically attacked by the majors and the RIAA. Remember DJ Danger Mouse and the Grey Album?) "The new system will give YouTube users a legitimate way to create videos with soundtracks that use music from Warner artists. (Videos of amateurs' lip syncing or juggling to popular songs are among the most viewed on video-sharing sites.) YouTube's system will identify such videos and give Warner a share of the revenue for any ads that appear alongside these videos, if Warner opts for that rather than having the videos removed." Although this agreement will give YouTube the permission to use Warner properties in "legal" ways, you can't help wondering how permissive Warner will be now they have affirmed ownership and will most likely pull any material used in a fashion that they don't approve - for one reason or another.
But, this isn't a total indictment of the deal. Even though the agreement sets a dangerous precedent, it can be considered a progressive move by Warner, one of the "big 5" major record labels. Warner and YouTube will actually share the revenue produced by ads shown in conjunction with music videos.
That fact that the RIAA or anyone else attempted to pull the site down through litigation before this signals that big music is now starting to "get it", if only a little bit. Only a fool would disregard YouTube's stellar traffic rankings and the potential as a low cost, MAJOR impact advertising venue. But sites like YouTube, which are devoid of a solid business model, cannot survive forced royalties to Warner, let alone when the other corporate playa haters come calling - EMI, Universal, Sony, BMG [breath] BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, James Hetfield [breath] Harry Fox.
Unfortunately, user-generated content sites may have to switch to a subscription-type of service or "pay to post" site which would undoubtedly ruin their web cred and send eyeballs elsewhere. In order to get some judgment here we need to determine whether the sky is indeed falling - that is, whether these lawsuits will break down the free exchange of ideas across the internet. Fortunately, the legal maneuverings of big business will only curb (temporarily) this trend towards personal presentation (adaptation) online. As users we are inherently more nimble and can change faster than corporations. In other words, keep adapting, keep changing, keep creating and by all means KEEP SHARING!!! .
and one more thing. If you have a website featuring streaming video through a Flash movie, you can also prepend these videos with as many ads as you like through a digital graft. We can do it. We have the technology.
Some have called Aaron a "new music philosopher" for his writings on recording industry practices and the evolution of digital music. A believer in the Free Music Philosophy as well as a proponent of new industry business models, Aaron has been a champion of indie artist's rights in the information age.