The BBC builds a ship while Viacom tries to turn off the taps

Another Stirrer column:

In my last column I talked about how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences demanded that YouTube remove all footage of the recent Oscars ceremony, despite the fact that they stood to lose no money at all on the footage in question.

Now the owners of MTV, Viacom, are suing YouTube for $1 billion in damages for over 150,000 clips it claims breach copyright.

The case “could end up rewriting one of the key laws of the Internet age: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” says Silicon Valley newspaper the Mercury News, although the truth is that the case is likely to be settled out of court, and may well not be about copyright at all, but more a tough bargaining tactic by Viacom over their relationship with YouTube.

In other words, it’s a sideshow. The likes of Viacom and the Academy are like drowning men trying to save themselves by turning off their taps.

What they should be doing is building a boat.

The BBC, for instance, have been developing an in-house ‘iPlayer’ to allow licence payers to download programs they’ve paid for and watch at their convenience.

And this month the corporation announced a partnership with YouTube to distribute its content, which looks like one of the canniest decisions they’ve made since asking reporters to keep notebooks.

The key thing about the deal is that the BBC have understood that online video consumers are not looking to feast on meaty 60 minute documentaries, but snack on 3 minute bite-sized clips. And the most likely way a young person is going to come across a new program is via the internet. If you’re not online, you’re not on their horizon.

So the BBC will be putting short clips on YouTube – even video created specifically for the website, like Doctor Who’s video diaries.

So while Viacom drowns in a sea of lawsuits, the BBC are not only building a boat –they’ve also grabbed a piece of driftwood to keep afloat in the meantime.
Useful links:
Viacom Gets Support From Media Rivals Against YouTube (Update2)
Viacom vs. Google: Test of key online law
BBC strikes Google-YouTube deal
Doctor Who – News – Who’s on You Tube?

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