YouTube, TV networks should learn to love each other

By Steve Outing

While I’ve been busy and haven’t had time to blog about it, I’ve been paying attention to the conflict between YouTube.com and CBS and NBC. You’ll recall the great Saturday Night Live skit “Lazy Sunday,” which people posted to YouTube, a video-sharing website, and which went viral. NBC insisted that YouTube remove it, along with 500 other NBC videos. With CBS, a CBS News story about an autistic kid also got put on YouTube and it went viral. CBS demanded that YouTube remove it.

Now, all the video on Youtube is user-submitted. So on the surface, people posting NBC and CBS videos to YouTube’s website are violating the networks’ copyright. YouTube has a policy that if a copyright owner asks that a video be removed, it does so quickly.

But the networks are being dumb about this. Frankly, they look like jerks when they demand that popular videos like “Lazy Sunday” are removed, and then those videos can no longer be found anywhere on YouTube.

Here’s what the networks should do instead: When a video of theirs gets posted to YouTube and gets big-time popular, contact the website and demand that the user-submitted videos be removed. That’s the networks’ right. Then submit to YouTube a sanctioned version of the video, maybe with a brief commercial message tacked on. And let YouTube users fling it around the Web. Take advantage of it. … Make lemonade out of lemons. …

Media executives have got to start understanding how to take advantage of the “unbundling” of content. Let loose a little. Story trying to block the inevitable and figure out how to profit from it. Xeni Jardin said it best in this recent quote: “NBC, you can’t have your cupcake and eat it, too. [You] should be sending flowers and chocolates to YouTube, not love notes from lawyers.”

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!