Academy attacks YouTube

Another of my columns from The Stirrer:

It seems to some people the word ‘internet’ still means a masked robber rolling in pornography, pirate videos and Viagra pills.

Witness the actions of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, who have demanded that YouTube remove all footage of the recent Oscars ceremony from the site.

The demand itself isn’t unusual – recently Viacom requested that the video hosting site remove 100,000 clips from the site whose copyright the company owned, while a potential Google-CBS content deal also looks to have fallen through.

What is unusual is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is not a broadcaster.

So why are they so afraid of clips appearing on YouTube? It’s not as if the ceremony is going to be broadcast all over again, and it’s not sold on video. Ric Robertson, executive administrator, is quoted by Variety as saying the Academy was trying “to help manage the value of our telecast and our brand.”

Translation? “We need control. Control. CONTROL!”

Bizarrely, even the very limited clips of the ceremony on the Oscars website are set to be deleted to “whet people’s appetite for next year’s show”. Because nothing makes a person want to watch a four-hour Oscar ceremony more than the fact that they can’t watch clips from the one last year.

Someone may want to point out to the Academy that one of this year’s Oscar winners was first profiled on the website MySpace Film, a social networking site much like YouTube.

Someone may want to point out to the Academy that Hollywood’s talent spotters are currently scouring YouTube for the hottest new talent – because that’s where it is.

Someone may want to point out that the world has changed. If you want control, work in a factory, not in media middle management. Your movies, your events, and your press are at the whim of a community of web users who can promote you or pull you to pieces at the click of a mouse button. Unclench your vice-like grip and get used to it.

Useful links:
Viacom Demands YouTube Nix 100,000 Clips
Academy threatens YouTube

Paul Bradshaw lectures on the Journalism degree at UCE Birmingham media department. He writes a number of blogs including the Online Journalism Blog, Interactive PR and Web and New Media.


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