It's the old farts at Viacom vs. the youngins at YouTube. The old model of actually paying for content vs. the new notion that all content should be free. By filing its $1 billion lawsuit against the popular video site - owned by Google - the Viacom folks are basically saying, look we're hip, we're cool, but for crying out loud, we're in the business to make lots of money and you're taking our stuff without paying for it. For anyone over 40, it's a pretty reasonable position, except Melly Alazraki points out at Blogging Stocks that there's a generation out there "that have probably never bought a CD in their life, don't record TV shows or rented movies because they could get it all - for free - online." Which helps explain why Viacom is getting thrashed all over the Web - to the point where some folks are actually naive enough to be talking about a boycott (but wait a second, kids, if you're getting the stuff for free, what exactly are you boycotting?). A sampler, courtesy of CNET's TalkBack:
--The heavy-handed, narrow-minded approach employed by Viacom hinges on the incredibly small-minded assumption that every copy posted online of clips, trailers and excerpts hurts its sales. The snippets of entertainment we use to create our world, both on and offline are part of our personal identity and the shared values we have with those around us. There are real pirates and issues of real piracy which will not be affected by all this wasted time and effort so how about growing up a little and concentrating on those who actually infringe on a mass scale and crediting the people who actually give you the money you use with some judgement?
--They want a piece of the YouTube cake and they missed the boat. They only way they can compete against YouTube is putting their videos exclusively on their Web sites. I'm already boycotting Viacom because I'm not interested in anything that plays on MTV. BTW I started watching Colbert on TV because of YouTube.
--Absolutely. If Viacom wants to play hard ball, lets kick 'em where it hurt's. Tell viacom to bugger off. Their shows will quickly follow the market and go to media companies who already have deals with youtube. WE RULE!!!
--Is Viacom the bad guy? Yes, of course - they're short-sighted fools to have taken this tack with Google. But is Google an even worse bad guy in this affair because of the methods in which they chose to abuse their users? Without question - we'd like to think that Google knows just a little bit about web content and protecting user rights.
--MTV is now owned by a bunch of suits called Viacom who spend a lot of money in market research figuring out what young people are doing these days, yet they're still clueless. Enter YouTube. It picks up what MTV abandoned years ago because market research said teens rather watch shows about bratty teens than video clips. Now Viacom's envy (sic) because they're not as cool as YouTube makes them (sic) retaliate. With something very uncool, like telling teens to take Viacom clips from YouTube.
None of this has much to do with censorship, per se. As Alazraki points out, Google and YouTube are constantly censoring - otherwise, the sites would be loaded with X-rated videos and snuff films. After all, they want a site that will attract advertisers, right? You know about advertisers - they're the same folks who help pay for all that content appearing on the Viacom channels. Uh-oh, I'm starting to sound like an old fart.