There continues to be a lot of talk about the rumor that the various TV networks might build their own version of YouTube, a place to showcase their own content, that allows them to retain control as well as all revenue associated with the site. There are plenty of reasons to think this is a bad idea, not the least of which is the fact that a tightly controlled version of YouTube would violate that which makes YouTube popular in the first place. IP Democracy has taken a look at some of the relevant case law, to see if such a plan might run afoul with antitrust regulators. It appears the issue would come down to exclusivity. When the movie studios tried to create their own rival to HBO, it was deemed to be in violation, because the studios wanted to withhold content from HBO. More recently, the studios' misadventure into film downloads, Movielink, was given the green light, because there were no plans to make it an exclusive shop. So it may all depend on what the TV networks actually have in mind for the new site. It's hard to imagine that they'd launch such a site, but still allow their shows to be posted on YouTube. Then again, they'd probably make the argument that an unlicensed copy (of a show) posted on YouTube constitutes a copyright violation, a position that would probably hold up legally. Of course, if the networks were to keep all the content on their own sites, not allow embedding, and encumber it with DRM, then we fully expect the market to deal them an adequate punishment, with no help needed from the government. Network lawyers may be studying closely the legal implication of such a plan, but a possible antitrust case should probably be low on their list of concerns.
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