Tuesday, June 19, 2007

YouTube Gets Sicko, Personal

The widely popular video viewing and sharing Website YouTube is getting personal…in nine additional countries. The company plans to launch Websites in Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, all of which will be translated to the country’s native tongue. Videos specific to each country will be highlighted on each respective site, adding even more of a personal touch.

This is a brave move for YouTube (which is now owned by online search behemoth Google), especially in the wake of ongoing, pesky copyright issues. Several allegation have come forward accusing YouTube of allowing users to post copyrighted material: everything from funny skits from Saturday Night Live (yep, those do exist from time to time), to sporting events.

YouTube’s most recent trouble came yesterday, after copies of the upcoming Michael Moore documentary Sicko was posted to the site, in the form of 14 clips that made up the entire 124-minute film. They were removed as soon as YouTube was made aware of them, but alas, a lucky 500-600 people got a taste of the sickness before it was taken down.

This brings us back to the whole content distribution argument, which is a hot topic in consumer electronics, computers, and Internet these days. Should YouTube be held responsible if its users post copyrighted material? Even if the firm has a strict policy against it, and promptly removes the video once its existence is known? Should the posting YouTube member be held responsible for infringing on copyrights? Should YouTube pay a sort of royalty fee to companies who’s copyright is infringed upon via posted videos?

In the end, it all boils down to one thing: compensation. People need to get paid. If we can find the proper balance between open content distribution and acceptable compensation, the online world would be a much better place.

[Note: The screen shot image that accompanies this entry is actually from the trailer for the movie Sicko, which is still available on YouTube.]

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