Like You’ve Been Framed…without the laughs

So much better than VHS…I’m clearly not alone in wondering what will happen now that YouTube has been swallowed by Google. It is the most interesting thing I have seen emerge on the net for a very long time and is quite a lot of fun. However, I am not a teenager nor I am I particularly interested in most of the content there which would also be less than useless to advertisers.

I’ve even read in the gutter press that Google intends to wipe any trace of copyrighted material from the site which will turn it into pointless mush. There is a lot of wonderful, rare content on there from old Atari ads to music videos from the 80s (that are rather more interesting than today’s less honest plastic) to interviews with Willliam S. Burroughs and beyond. I’m amazed what dusty videotape abandonware exists out there and it is a part of our collective cultural heritage that needs to be celebrated. Google needs to use its market power to persuade the Comedy Centrals of this world that people post low-fi bits from its shows because people love them. Even A-level economics would tell you that tiny, Flash-based fag packet sized video is not a subsititute good for TV broadcasts, properly encoded full shows or DVDs. It is just free publicity from people who like your product enough to promote it.

Why not advertise DVDs or full iPod downloads of the shows next to this fandom? Why not study the habits, tastes and preferences of new subcultures so they can be better reached through marketing?

It seems the content companies have not moved on from the MPAA vs. Betamax era. Trouble is, it stands to be our loss as much as theirs.

One of the Law Lords once said that current copyright law is tolerated by the citizenry only because it is not strictly and uniformly enforced. Imagine a world where mix tapes made to impress a teenage love interest resulted in a trip to Wormwood Scrubs or bankruptcy for mum and dad…

Maybe a total crackdown on the multimedia water coolers and fanzines of the net will force governments to reconsider all this.


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