Monday, October 22, 2007

Your Tube is My Tube ...

I've spent a little bit of time poking around YouTube recently and it's amazing what you can find. One of things that makes this site so popular is the availability of so many different kinds of video programming. But one of the things that makes the site so controversial is that a lot of that programming is copyrighted, especially in the area of sports media.

For example, it didn't take me long to find entire NFL games available for viewing, along with selected network highlights from the NBA, NHL and major league baseball. These were games originally broadcast by the networks, who would supposedly still hold the transmission rights (doesn't anyone pay attention to those warnings at the beginning of games?--"any rebroadcast or retransmission of this game without the express written consent of ___ is strictly prohibited.")

YouTube supposedly has a new filtering system in place to detect piracy, but it's apparently not working very well. Parent company Google is facing several lawsuits for copyright infringement, most notably from Viacom, which owns CBS. YouTube's filtering system has not yet conviced Viacom to drop its $1 billion lawsuit.

This looming confrontation is somewhat reminiscent of Napster, the music-sharing company that eventually had to shut down because of copyright concerns. Legally speaking, it would seem YouTube is headed down the same road, but Google is big enough and powerful enough to give anyone, even Viacom, a good fight. In the meantime, enjoy those sports videos on YouTube ... while you still can.

P.S. It should be noted that I am using the YouTube logo here without the company's permission. What's good for the goose ...


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