I love YouTube, I really do. It’s legitimized stuff I’ve been harking on about for years and made it possible for me to raise money for my own web video venture. For that I’m truly grateful.
But the party is reaching that slightly sketchy stage where the police are sniffing around the venue, and everyone is asking where the after-party is.
I refer of course to the virtual certainty that YouTube will implement some form of fingerprinting technology this year to identify copyright infringing works within seconds of being posted.
When you think about it, the movie studios and TV networks are right to be annoyed that this isn’t happening already. The technology exists, it works, and if Google of all people can’t implement a search and identify technology, well who can?
YouTube fans might say… Why would they do this? Why would they bow to the media companies’ demands? Didnt’ they refuse to hand over details to the Chinese authorities?
Well business is all about leverage, aka negotiating power. Google needs deals such as the recent one they made with Sky television in the UK, to extend its highly profitable ad business into TV land. Remember 99% of their revenue comes from advertising, and YouTube isn’t making any of it.
And personalized TV advertising delivered via set-top boxes is a very viable route for the company that isn’t getting much coverage. So if Google wants to be invited to that particular party, they’ve got to police their own. No police, no public performance license, no party.
The problem for YouTube, and they know it deep down in their water, is that the real, true reason for its success, is that people go there to see copyrighted material. When that goes, so will a big part of their audience.
I’ve written about the problems YouTube faces here and video fingerprinting technology here. The clouds are darkening on the horizon, and it will take some deft maneouvering to save the lighting and speaker rig from getting soaked.
Perhaps Google buying YouTube was all just a clever move to get face time with the media companies. Where I’m currently writing from, people readily pay $$$ to get a meeting with someone important or a government official. $4 billion is a big price to pay to get a few meetings, but it could just be chump change if the Google / Sky deal delivers on its promise…
The after party is where?