The author, in this entry from a Web 2.0-centric blog, details Youtube’s recent efforts to both appease copyright holders and to promote creativity amongst its users. In January 2007, Youtube unveiled plans for a Revenue Sharing program which would give certain Youtube users a portion of ad revenue Youtube receives based on the number of hits their videos garner. Youtube will give even higher exposure to users labeled as “Directors,” people who are allowed to upload films greater than 10 minutes in length. Similarly, Youtube will share revenue with some copyright holders based on ad money they receive for the viewing of infringing videos. The author discusses the possibility that Youtube will have to increase the number of ads it shows to make up for the profit lost from the Revenue Sharing Program. This leads to the dilemma of Youtube losing viewers if advertisements begin to show up before minute-long clips. To increase the effectiveness of heightened advertising, Youtube may have to adopt a TV style model in which “an advertiser pays Youtube (and thus the content creator) X amount for every viewing.” To appease advertisers, Youtube’s new Audio Fingerprinting technology could be used to prevent inappropriate videos from being paired with reputable brands. This would be similar to Google Adsense which provides targeted advertising to firms. The problem relates to copyright because if Youtube adopts targeted advertising, which it has recently begun to do, it will be receiving revenue for ads placed in front of infringing videos for which it does not have deals settled with the copyright holders, thus increasing the possibility of them being vicariously liable. The solution, the author notes, is to use Audio Fingerprinting to detect copyrighted material and then inform the copyright holder, who will have the option to either remove the material or share revenue gained from the video with Youtube.
This system could potentially solve the problem of both Youtube and the copyright holder losing money from various transactions. Youtube loses money when it devotes bandwidth and time to a video only to have the video deleted due to a takedown notice. Similarly, the holder loses money wasting man hours filing takedown notices and finding the actual infringing material. If both groups work together, as Youtube intends, companies will be much less likely to sue Youtube, especially if they are actually making money from infringing videos posted online. Similarly, Youtube decreases its chance of liability because it is increasing its promotion of original works by paying some users. By offering directors a part of the revenue earned from their original and creative works, Youtube is encouraging users to make their own films rather than simply splicing together copyrighted material (which leads to zero profit for users). Thus, with the adoption of the revenue sharing plan detailed above, Youtube has simultaneously appeased the copyright holders and expanded its promotion of original material, showing courts that there are indeed significant “non-infringing” uses for Youtube.