Google is apparently looking to continue the practice of paying off entertainment companies to agree not to sue YouTube, apparently dangling fees of over $100 million to various well-known entertainment companies. The agreement is structured as a "licensing" deal, and the companies would agree not to sue Google over YouTube and give Google about 3 years to figure out how to get the model right. As the article notes, it's an intriguing deal for the entertainment companies, who can't easily pass up $100 million for doing nothing. But, they're also worried about the precedent it sets and the "loss of control" over their content. To be honest, this seems a little backwards. They've already lost control over their content, and no amount of trying is going to get it back. The more worrisome thing is the worry about the precedent that is being set on the other side, by Google. It's great that they're trying to work out some sort of model to get the entertainment companies off their back, and they certainly have the cash to do so, but it opens up a huge list of potential problems. What about smaller and mid-sized firms? Why does Google get to pick who gets compensated? And, once the big entertainment firms are getting compensated, what's to stop the independents or even the amateurs creating content for the site from asking where their cut is as well? While it's understandable that Google might not want to go through a huge legal battle over this (even if the law is probably on their side), setting a precedent of paying people off to leave them alone is only going to attract more attention and more lawsuits from others who want their cut.
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