Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Proposed Solution to How Video Copyrights are being applied at Youtube and Other Video Sharing Sites

I have been getting into video uploading lately, and have uploaded vast amounts of my own content.

However, I have also uploaded a couple, few second clips of interviews from talk shows that are years old, and got spanked for it. Basically, just the part where the celebrity is introduced, comes in, and sits down - that's it.

I took some time to ponder how reasonable this is. Let's look at some basic numbers regarding content creation of a show, and the scale of content that can result.

Take for example the Carson Daly show, it has been on the air since 2002.

That means there is roughly 0.5 hours x 5 days x 52 weeks x 6 years = approx. 800 hours of programming. Yet, there is not a single Carson Daly DVD for sale, not even a 'highlights' DVD. Meaning, the entertainment company is not making any effort to allow interested viewers willing to pay a fair price to view the content.

Now, in the example of a private citizen, you could certainly say, well, its my right to not publish my book, music, or whatever content if I don't want to. And that is true. But entertainment companies, those are businesses, obliged to both their viewing public and also their shareholders to realize revenue from their film archives. So, withholding the content just to be withholding it makes absolutely no sense for these companies.

In other words, the current "solution", to simply withhold content from the viewing public, is not a solution at all. In fact, it is the problem for which a solution needs to be crafted, especially for types of content that would be overwhelming if the standard approach of the "DVD Box Set" release, which certainly applies to all talk shows, as well as many other kinds of broadcast content, were followed.

Now, to be fair, if I had to hypothesize, I would say that these companies are trying to avoid some of the problems encountered with Napster and such regarding music. There's a big difference though. All the content on video sharing sites is not as good as the real product in at least a couple of ways:
1. It is shorter. There is usually a 10 minute limit on videos, if not less.
2. It is smaller. YouTube and others reduce all their videos to a very small format, that would certainly not impress anyone watching on, say, a 1080p high definition television.

I am going to present a solution that is a win-win for everyone. Unless stated otherwise, the video hosting website (such as YouTube) would act as the intermediary between user and entertainment company, as is the case today for the rejection scenario.

For an entertainment company "partnered" with YouTube, to deserve that appellation means more than rejecting content. It should be more about identifying promising content that user's have already taken the trouble to upload, and figuring out a way to make money on it in a win-win manner.

Here's how it would work:

1. If a user uploads some content that is in fact a portion of a broadcast show, rather than simply rejecting and threatening the user, the following evaluation would be done:

a. Is the content a small part of the whole interview, or whatever skit, bit, or show is being evaluated.

b. If it is a small and/or low-resolution 'teaser' type clip, in addition to the option of simply rejecting the content, the opportunity to 'partner' with the company would be presented to the user.

c. If the user rejects the offer, then the content is simply removed, as is the procedure today.

2. If the user accepts (the usual case), then the entertainment company could provide a link on the page with that video to a paid, full version of that content, either that particular clip or the whole show from which it was drawn. The entertainment company would probably choose to do this for popular video clips, of course.

3. As the person who identified the promising content in the first place, it would be fair to give that user a fair cut of the proceeds from such click throughs, not unlike AdSense and similar mechanisms today.

What has happened here is that the user has in fact identified potentially popular content for that entertainment company. As such, it would be fair for them to get cut of the sales of the full clip. I don't speculate on the amount of the cut, but essentially they are saving the entertainment company huge amounts of effort, because without this user mechanism, the entertainment company has little choice but to digitize its entire content for that show, make them all available, and hope that something sticks.

This is a win-win for everyone:

1. The entertainment company can make real money off their catalog in ways that are completely beyond their reach today. By "atomizing" their content to some degree, they in fact could have a better revenue model. But fair pricing is essential - in the dollars per clip, rather than $29.95 or something (unless it was actually for the full content of the show on DVD or something, something warranting the higher price). Remember, it presumably would be a high-resolution, full version of a clip in the same size format as video sharing sites support, which is a small format, and hence should not command full size television format prices.

2. Fears of rampant reproduction of this content are baseless, especially if the content is provided in the small size favored by YouTube and others. In addition, targeting a segment of a show rather than the entire show greatly reduces the risk of rampant, unauthorized reproduction, because who's going to do all that for one interview? That would have to be some interview. This is an unreasonable anxiety.

3. Users will be encouraged to find interesting content, because they can make a little money.

Again, the users would have to be aware that a snippet is more tending towards a partnership than the whole interview - because then the entertainment company, what do they sell in that case. However, even in this case, there are opportunities for those companies:

- if the linked-to content provided by the entertainment company is higher quality and/or larger format than the user's youtube clip, people will buy it anyway, if that like that clip enough. The entertainment company would naturally provide this content in such a format that it could be easily replicated, much like the real player .flv format is now.

This would be a way for entertainment companies to 'get with the program' and adopt Internet marketing and profiting practices that smart companies elsewhere are using in other similar contexts.

And the sharing sites, depending on the precise nature of their role and hence possible revenue cut in this content identification and provisioning process, could themselves have a very promising revenue model to work with, one that leverages the heart of their competencies.

No comments: