In case you haven’t been paying attention, it’s been a rough week for YouTube. A judge ruled that they have to hand over logs off all their video views (with IP addresses) to a third party who will interpret the data for Viacom, who has a standing BILLION dollar lawsuit against Google/YouTube.
YouTube also announced they are still losing money, despite making $200M on ads. Mark Cuban has been one of the loudest critics of YouTube’s policy of hiding behind the DMCA Safe Harbor provision, which means that as long as no YouTube employees are paying attention to content, they can’t be held liable for someone uploading copyrighted materials. Viacom says of course YouTube knew and encouraged the upload of copyrighted material. But YouTube never sold ads against that unfiltered material so they’ve just been losing money on it.
It’s all very sordid. What’s clear is that Google/YouTube still seems to want to subsidize the hosting of everyone’s video, at least for now. The media people on TWiM think they’ll pay the blood money to the studios and keep on with business as usual, much as Microsoft did with bundling Explorer with Windows, way back when in the antefirefoxian days.
What’s also becoming clear now is that content creators are being drawn to other sites like Blip.tv and Vimeo (for a long list of YouTube alternatives, see my What I Know About Web Video post). Could this be the week YouTube jumped the shark and became the Friendster to Blip’s MySpace and Vimeo’s Facebook?
It all depends on how YouTube reacts (or doesn’t react) to this week’s events. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say: These decisions will shape how we consume media for the next 50 years. Stay tuned.