YouTube Stars Fighting YouTube Networks Over Their Contracts

from the read-before-you-sign dept

As YouTube becomes more and more popular as a primary entertainment resource, it is going to have many of the same growing pains as traditional entertainment venues. If it can ever get past its "internet problems", it can move on to having actual entertainment issues. This means far more fun problems, like agents screwing young stars out of money, networks building contract language to screw young stars out of their artistic freedom, and lawyers threatening to enforce exclusive contracts to screw young stars out of their lives. Are you noticing a theme here? It's going to become increasingly important that formerly amateur YouTube stars read the contracts they sign with a growing number of upstart "YouTube Networks" very carefully, or else they are going to face situations such as we're seeing with Machinima stars, who are shutting down production because they're locked into lifetime and beyond contracts with the multi-channel network.
Vacas, known online as Braindeadly, has big brown eyes, a fauxhawk, a stubbly goatee and a British accent, discernible as he tells his 40,000 YouTube subscribers goodbye.

"I woke up today hoping to make a video, but I went into a call with Machinima this evening and they said that my contract is completely enforceable. I can't get out of it," Vacas tells the camera. "They said I am with them for the rest of my life — that I am with them forever. If I'm locked down to Machinima for the rest of my life and I've got no freedom, then I don't want to make videos anymore," he says quietly.
The screen fades to black.
Ominous, but not entirely unexpected. Those who make their bones on YouTube and any other new platform that might arise aren't going to have traditional avenues for making sure they know what they're signing. In the case of Vacas, he admits to this explicitly, later stating that he signed his Machinima contract quickly, not realizing they would own the rights to anything he produced on YouTube "in perpetuity, throughout the universe, in all forms of media now known or hereafter devised." Even death would not release Vacas of his contractual obligations. It sucks, but he signed it.

The point is that in these early days of YouTube channel capitalization, artists need to be very wary of sharks swimming in those waters. As the article points out, this isn't really new, it's just a different venue.
A recent string of high-profile disputes is prompting comparisons between YouTube networks and the exploitative Hollywood studios of the 1930s and '40s: Both convinced young and naive talent with little leverage to sign contracts that leave them at a disadvantage. For networks, that means contracts that bind creators to them indefinitely, demand rights to their content in perpetuity and take large ownership stakes in any resulting businesses.
As ugly as some of these contracts are, as are the intentions of those that wrote them, this should end up working itself out as YouTube matures as a primary entertainment platform. After all, Machinima can have all the dastardly contractual language it likes, but if the artists like Vacas refuse to produce in protest, what good does that do them? Eventually, a middle ground should and will be found. In the past, if you didn't like the contract offered to you by a major gatekeeper, you were pretty much out of luck. Today, however, not only are there more providers, but it's not difficult to "go it alone" if you choose such a path.


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  1.  
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    Alana (profile), Jan 28th, 2013 @ 11:30pm

    And this is another reason the law fails.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 12:10am

    Yeah its pretty crappy. Not sure how these guys will fare but its fairly terrible to hear.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 12:29am

    LazyPurple's discussed issues with monetising your own YouTube channels, and one of the points he brought up was Machinima's lifetime contracts. According to him, some courts have declared the contracts unenforceable because they're signing away kids younger than 18 for life.

    Which makes one wonder - will the usual shills who claim "the law is the law, and so are TOSes" be able to explain what happens when terms are found to be unenforceable?

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 12:41am

    Re:

    I believe the usual claim they make is that the TOS trumps everything, and that by agreeing to one a person is basically giving up the usual legal rights, and replacing them with what's listed in the TOS. The fact that this is not true, or even vaguely legal is apparently beyond them.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 12:48am

    Using their own club against them

    It seems that a better way to protest would be, rather than just not make videos, make videos that consist of nothing but him telling people 'Machinima sucks, never sign with them' over and over.

    Not only that, but he could tell Machinima that, just flat out say 'This is the only thing you'll be getting from me from this point forward, have fun with the PR.'

     

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    James Burkhardt (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 12:49am

    As an additional note, a long legal battle might also list this contract as unenforceable because it is too one sided, that is a contract expresses that one side gives up value in trade for something else of value. But when values are inequitable and/or one side has an unreasonable negotiating advantage, the contract will not be enforceable. Its the legal basis to how some countries have declared the 'shrink wrap licence' (a software licence that you are forced to accept because you can't return your product once you broke the shrinkwrap) unenforceable.

     

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  7.  
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    Bergman (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:11am

    Re: Re:

    You cannot sign yourself into slavery. That is illegal. You cannot give permission for your own assassination. Murder remains illegal.

    Contracts can be broken. This is a basic fact of contract law. No corporation is The Devil, no matter how hard some try to be, and they cannot claim perpetual ownership of your body and/or soul no matter what you sign.

     

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:14am

    Re: Re:

    Absolutely.

    In the UK there is the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 which specifically states in Section 13:

    13 Varieties of exemption clause.
    (1)To the extent that this Part of this Act prevents the exclusion or restriction of any liability it also prevents—
    (a)making the liability or its enforcement subject to restrictive or onerous conditions;

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1977/50


    Do the US and Canada have something similar to this? If not perhaps people need to ask for it.

    Anyway some contracts just can't be considered legal no matter what the terms.

    If I hired a hitman, for example, and he didn't fulfill his part of the contract by taking out the target - would I be able to sue for breach of contract? Well I can tell you in the UK the case is a resounding "No" - In the US, I'll wait till I hear an expert in American law tell it...

     

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    Donnicton, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It depends - are you the U.S. Government, and was the reason "But...but...terrorism!"?

     

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    James Burkhardt (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    the US does have this. However, the contract makes some interteresting legal distinctions in an attempt to claim that the contract isn't one sided. The problem is paying for the legal battle to get the contract revoked.

     

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    Wally (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:31am

    Let me tell you a story about Machinima....do not...under ANY circumstances...use them or anybody but yourself as the publisher of your works being uploaded to YouTube. I know that from third person perspective personal experience (I was in a Machinima clan that made movies) that they will pull any videos you make independently off of YouTube, and then claim them as their own by reporting the video under their badge. They are just as bad,if not worse than the MPAA and RIAA combined.

     

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    JMG, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:40am

    The gamers need to take it back

    I guess some people just need to jump ship, change their screen name, and continue their work.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:04am

    Capitalism is the core issue

    Am I the only one that sees this as a capitalist issue?

    Machinima is a financier, similar to a bank. They make money off of other's labor while they finance it. They deal with the copyright issues by paying off companies far more than punishing their "actors" could make. There is a huge information mismatch. You have to use a studio to finance your works so that you don't get the dreaded three strikes that ruins you from having to start over.

    The option that would be much more difficult but much more rewarding would be if there were indeed be a coop studio that worked on YouTube. The artists themselves worked on videos to make while they had a decision in what that company spent the extra proceeds they produced (the surplus). It kept small, there could be a lot of benefits in having the kids decide what they wasn't to do and how to spend money in a responsible company over having a contract that keeps you as an indentured servant for the rest of your life.

     

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    jameshogg (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 3:49am

    Copyright... "defending the rights of the artists"... don't make me laugh.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:19am

    Poor Artists

    Yet another example of how publishers keep artists in the poor and starving bracket. It must be to keep them producing in the forlorn hope that their great grandchildren might benefit from their work.

     

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Personally, I would consider such contract null and void - I would pay a solicitor or lawyer to write one letter to Machinima or any predatory company with a missive that simply states upon learning the contract was unlawful, I no longer consider myself bound to it.

    I would then go about my business / life. If the predatory company attempted to DMCA any of my content - I would use legal avenues available to me to have it reinstated and claim my copyrights on my own material. Furthermore, I would issue DMCA requests against every video featuring me that the company has posted on the web.

    Finally, if they wanted to take any of it to court, I'd welcome the opportunity and defend myself. A rational judge or magistrate would not need much to see the contract as unlawful.

    All the time this would be generating such negative publicity for the company - they'd most likely lose their userbase, and at that point start losing their ability to make any profit whatsoever.

    I'd be quite willing to be a test-case/martyr for the cause since I don't see it as a battle that could be lost.

     

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  17. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:21am

    The point is that in these early days of YouTube channel capitalization

    wait, what?

    artists need to be very wary of sharks swimming in those waters

    hahahaha

    You mean like YT itself? Who take what percentage again?

    You guys are way too funny.

     

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  18.  
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    Michael, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:25am

    exploitative Hollywood studios of the 1930s and '40s

    They stopped being exploitative in 1950? Thank goodness their contracts have been so artist-friendly since then.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:33am

    Re:

    Hang on. The contracts involved have nothing to do with Youtube. Moreover, I'm pretty sure it's considerably less than the 70% Apple take for iTunes.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And a judge can proclaim a contract to be unconscionable, and therefore null and void.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re:

    Now let's not let any facts interrupt a good youtube lynching.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:08am

    Re:

    Right. Because Machinima = YouTube.

    Did they not teach you reading back in Jackass School?

     

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  23.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, the strawman has a point...

    YouTube, ie Google, makes money off the venture capitalists that give money to Machinima. When I read the story, I think it was $500 million or another large number that I can't recall. YouTube can indeed tell Machinima to knock off the BS since they pay a lot for it's upkeep as a financier for smaller artists.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:26am

    Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    it is capitalism, but it opens opportunity as well, if someone wants to take on Machinima then they offer better contracts/ better conditions, word gets out and Machinima goes way... its how things work.

    Plus the Life Contracts are a legal problem not Capitalism..

     

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    anonymouse, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:47am

    shame

    The problem is that the person in question would not have made any profit from their youtube videos if they had not signed the initial contract and got the initial marketing, so who has actually generated the income stream.

    If you do not take heed of a contracts details it is really your fault , saying that i cannot see how it can be acceptable that a business entity can claim all your creations without having an option to escape the contract at some point possibly with a payment or something reasonable negotiated by the two parties.

     

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  26.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:13am

    Re: The gamers need to take it back

    Changing your screen name will not protect you from a contract that specifies that everything you create is owned by some evil company.

    They still may sue.

    OTOH, while it may cost a lot of money, there is the possibility you might be able to get out of it.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re:

    > I'm pretty sure it's considerably less than
    > the 70% Apple take for iTunes.

    Doesn't Apple take only 30% for iTunes?

    Just as Google's Play store for Apps takes 30%?

     

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  28.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:17am

    Re: Re:

    Learning how to read would make it harder to make incomplete assumptions which is the backbone of trolldom. What are you, a childhood terrorist???????

     

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  29.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:18am

    Re: shame

    Incorrect. You can make your own YouTube channel for free and do all the editing yourself.

     

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  30.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:18am

    Re: shame

    That's like saying that anyone who gets conned deserves it.

    There is something morally and ethically wrong with exploiting and taking advantage of a naive young talented person.

    Dangling money in front of them to con them into doing something extremely stupid and not in their self interest so that you can exploit them is about as despicable as getting someone drunk or drugged at a club so that they will "consent" to something you want.

     

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  31.  
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    dennis deems, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    if they wanted to take any of it to court, I'd welcome the opportunity and defend myself.
    Nice idea, but how would you pay for it?

     

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  32.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    Capitalism as a kinder gentler version of feudalism still doesn't mean people want two tiers of justice, and ever more laws saying how much citizens who aren't rich are criminals while those at the to are immune from harm.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why, yes, yes it does. My apologies.

     

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  34.  
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    dennis deems (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    He's referring specifically to the manner in which studios like MGM exploited young artists such as Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

     

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    dennis deems (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re:

    Sorry -- she's referring.

     

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    dennis deems (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:44am

    Excellent article

    Thank you for reporting on this. I had no idea those YouTube channels had so much power.

     

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I would self fund, but keep record of bills and costs for my time - I would also bill myself per hour of time spent on the case.

    The point that some seem to be missing is they are actually stipulating they own your life and any future earnings from creative works.

    It's not simply a one-time patent troll that can be settled with to go away... therefore it's worth fighting for - because going bankrupt from losing a case (which you are highly unlikely to lose) - is worth it if they already consider you a contractual slave.

    In my case it's not just hypothetical - I have done this before on numerous occasions with banks, gyms, ebay, council, police... I'm not afraid of taking on legal challenges myself and have won enough times to make it worthwhile.

    I understand that people fear the idea of courts and costs but if everyone just invested some time and cost to fight back against such injustice then the courts would be swamped and lawmakers might have to sit up and take notice.

     

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not just the little guy who fears going to court... sometimes big corporations are aware that one judgement could potentially end a business model - they also have something to lose. You just have to be ballsy enough to call them on it.

    Speaking for the UK in particular, there are a lot of industries whose business models depend on unlawful methods. They operate on the basis that most people fear going to court (even as plaintiff) and therefore so few challenge their claims.

    If only 1 or 2 out of every 10 "customers" are willing to challenge them, it's still more profitable to drop their claims, than to risk a judgement that prevents from collecting from the other 8 cowards.

     

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  39.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A flawless plan except for 2 little drawbacks.

    1: It rest on "A rational judge or magistrate"

    2: It rest on "A rational judge or magistrate"

    I realize that technically that is only one drawback, but it is important enough I thought I should mention it twice.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:28am

    Re: Using their own club against them

    Sounds like he's just going to move on and do something better with his life. Just because you're a Youtube star doesn't mean you have to remain one.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    The obvious and correct answer is that the government, backed up by its citizens, should not take kindly to this kind of exploitation. After all they have the power to limit these kind of contracts: for example you could say that any contract longer than 5 years can be freely terminated by any party and requires both parties to sign the contract again. So if one party got fucked over they stop within a reasonable time.

     

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  42.  
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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nice try Kryton... but it's cynicism like that which stops people from appealing to the courts as their last line of defense in a democracy.

    My experience with magistrates in general is they tend to be pragmatic and fair. Even with a corrupt magistrate, you have the chance of appeal - or you break the law and become a prisoner of conscience.

    If the law is wrong, it's the duty of every citizen to disobey that law.

    In this case though the worst you're looking at is bankruptcy if the legal costs are high - and either way, a company like Machinima would face a PR nightmare - I would argue they have more to lose as you would be endangering their future existence.

    And what magistrate is going to make a rule that "Yes, Machinima owns everything you do in future", making you pay their legal costs to the point of bankruptcy and then ruling that even after bankruptcy you are still owned by them - there's just zero chance of this happening.

    Based on my reasoning above, I think those who are saying that it's not worth the trouble fighting something like this are contributing in spreading the FUD that these companies are all-powerful and cannot be stopped. It's just bullshit and people need to take a stand.

     

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  43.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    The problem is not capitalism.

    We're no longer living in a classical system of capitalism. We're more in a system of neo-capitalistic cronyism.

    Central to the idea of capitalism was the "invisible hand" and enlightened self-interest. The contract noted is antithetical to both of those ideas. Once someone signs one of these contracts, they are no longer free to produce what they want and sell it as they see fit. And greed has replaced the enlightened self-interest of the corporation.

    Heck, this doesn't even fit the Randian view of rational selfishness.

     

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    I was thinking...What if I wanted to negotiate for In Perpetuity minus a day?

     

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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    Adam Smith only stated the Invisible Hand once. He felt strongly that the state(government) should intervene when monopolies arise. Most people knew that monopolies create a cancer to society.

    My problem arises in how the state is taken over by corporate interests. Loosely translated, that would be fascism or what we call crony capitalism.

    The capitalist system promotes this type of information dissymetry immensely.

    For one, there are few regulations on how to gain better conditions for any of the producers of content. Just recently, Machinima laid off workers even though it's getting bigger. As I see it, this system is one rife with exploitation of workers and free laborers similar to how feudalism exploited serfs who grew wheat for a plot of land that they gave to a church.

    The better alternative would be if the producers had a say in what Machinima was doing and how the contacts went every six months instead of a one time signing into perpetuity type deal.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: shame

    But you're liable for all "infringements" that occur.

    It's a raw deal trying to deal with the YouTube system on your own and dealing with the multiple corporations that are likely to get peeved if you have no knowledge you've crossed them.

     

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  47.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    The new system much like the old system

    If you've followed my comments on Techdirt, you'll probably notice that they skew towards an Occupy Wall Street mentality. I'm often trying to poke holes into the tech-versus-Hollywood arguments because I don't consider replacing one big industry power block with another big industry power block to be progress.

    I think the issues we confront today involve global economics and require us to look at new solutions. Tweaking one part of it without asking how we can radically transform ownership and power structures strikes me as just prolonging inequality and dodging some of the issues we, as a global economy, need to address.

    I continually tell people to look at the P2P Foundation because there's a wealth of research/info/brainstorming about what we might be able to do with new technology. But the goal isn't to create more big companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and the like. It's to make them unnecessary. YouTube is a great resource, and likely needed Google's deep pockets to survive. But will it one day be possible to have a YouTube-like endeavor run as a collective, without corporate ownership/involvement?

    How do we eliminate the need for privately run studios, offering bad contracts, feeding into YouTube? Why, in this day of DIY, did they fulfill an unmet need in the first place?

     

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  48.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:25am

    Re:

    I am curious: why would any body use a service like Machinima in the first place? What do they bring to the table? The big win with YouTube is that you can easily do the whole thing yourself. From the outside, it looks like signing up with a service like Machinima is just giving up the main benefit YouTube gives you.

     

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  49.  
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    James Burkhardt (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Here is the problem, it isn't directly unlawful. A court is needed to determine if the contract is too 'one-sided', and therefore unenforceable.

    The damning part in my mind is that they leave the copyright with the creator, but have a indefinite exclusive licence that does not end when they cancel all payment obligations. its a clear attempt to avoid "Jack Kirby" lawsuits by claiming that the creator retained the copyright, even when they cant use it.

    But a court could rule that the concessions to the creator are reasonable and my interpretation of several sections of the contract were wrong and the contract is equitable. We would have to see.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    As a small Youtuber hoping (against all logic and sanity) to be able to make a living off of my videos, I pay close attention to this kind of thing. I have learned that I'm vary lucky to be able to take any contract I'm handed to my dad and ask him to have his team of lawyers look it over.

    I have been listening to all I can about the networks since this came out, and from what I understand not all networks are like Machinima, some have good contracts. But you've got to do what we always say you have to do; read your contract.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    Wny sign with Machinima?

    That's a good question and I think I'll check out the coverage about them from last year. Here's something that is relevant. (My emphasis in the excerpt below.)

    Machinima Using Game-Themed Videos to Lure Young Men - NYTimes.com: "The company — with backing from MK Capital, Redpoint Ventures and Google, which owns YouTube — also has a significant presence on mobile devices.

    "Machinima Prime is part of YouTube’s strategy, started a year ago, to lure television viewers and advertisers with higher-quality videos, even if aimed at niche interests.

    "YouTube invested about $100 million in the overall effort — Machinima received an undisclosed portion — and in recent weeks YouTube began evaluating which channels had done well enough to receive a second round of financing."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:42am

    Re: Why sign with Machinima?

    I'm not sure I need to look much farther. This alone would seem to explain why some people thought working with Machinima was a foot in the door.

    Google Invests In Machinima YouTube Gamer Channel - Peter Kafka - Media - AllThingsD: "But the move has significant symbolism, because it’s the first time Google has openly backed a content company by taking an equity stake. YouTube is spending more than $100 million on its much-publicized channel program, but it is writing those checks as loans to content makers, and it recoups the money via ad sales."

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    seems like a another digital utopia lie exposed to the new boss old boss meme... there is no digital revolution, there are only new gate keepers and new parasites to exploit artists and creators...

    http://thetrichordist.com/2012/04/15/meet-the-new-boss-worse-than-the-old-boss-full-post/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're arguing a solipsist point of view. If an artist has the money to go up against Machinima in court, why would they sign in the first place?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Why sign with Machinima?

    Think about this a bit. It's been portrayed as a battle between good Google and bad Hollywood. So maybe you inherently trust a company funded by Google, only to find that the company is offering you a contract just like Hollywood used to offer.

    That's been my overriding point in most of what I post here. It's not really about good tech versus bad Hollywood. The bigger issue is big versus small. I think big, public corporations inherently seek control as they can get it. As Hollywood's clout declines that doesn't mean the problems go away. These same issues then shift to other industries that have become the new establishment.

     

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  56.  
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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    When it comes to unfair contract terms... I've had plenty of success by writing a formal letter to a company trying to make a financial claim on a contract I have signed, stating exactly that their contact terms are unfair and therefore unlawful and I do not intend to continue.

    I've also backed it up with examples and willingness to test my assertion by stating they should cease and desist from contracting me unless it is via a court summons. I have not yet been taken to court, my guess is the other parties in each case were unwilling to see their claims of a fair contract tested.

    I get the feeling that people telling me this is not possible don't have much experience in business or in negotiation. It's always a 2 sided affair and usually the big mean company will have something to lose. It just takes a while for someone with a big picture mentality inside the company to work out what's about to happen.

     

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  57.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    he capitalist system promotes this type of information dissymetry immensely.

    I agree, at least somewhat. I don't see a better option, however. I feel like (classical) capitalism is the economic version of the quote about democracy being 'the worst form of government except all the others.'

    What else do we have? Communism has been tried many places and in many versions and failed every time. The moderate socialism in place in some parts of Europe has some improvements, but other detriments.

    I don't see this as a failure of economic models. The failure is because we are all human. Sometimes we're rational and do good things because we know its better for everyone. Other times we're emotional, irrational, greedy unevolved apes trying to dominate everyone else.

     

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  58.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    What else do we have? Communism has been tried many places and in many versions and failed every time. The moderate socialism in place in some parts of Europe has some improvements, but other detriments.

    There's so much I could point you to, but it would overwhelm this conversation. But here's a good place to start.

    Four scenarios for the inevitable P2P Future: "P2P and networked technologies are here to stay, are expanding, and will become the dominant technological format. Yet, that doesn’t mean at all that the future is a foregone conclusion. Around these technologies we will see political and social struggles that will involve ownership and governance (control), and also their mobilization by social forces having their own worldviews, interests and agenda."

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re:

    Oh hey, aren't you that Camper Beethoven guy? Yeah, if I was a failure as a musician and no longer relevant I'd blame other people too, rather than you know myself.

    Too bad that website is filled with nothing in the way of ACTUAL facts or evidence to back up its wild allegations/assertions/bullshit. Otherwise it might flirt with some level of credibility.

    I saw the latest Van Beethoven album on a site the other day. Being freely given out without that shill/dork David Lowery's consent. I left a comment. "You couldn't pay me to download any crap by that hack. Literally." The only thing worse than someone not being known is being known and having people ignore you nonetheless.

    David Lowery. A man who couldn't change with the times and spends his time railing against others who can/do. A fitting end to someone with a mediocre (and that's putting it extremely generously) career at best.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Using their own club against them

    Knowing lawyers, I bet they put a clause in the "life contract" that prohibits such language.

    "Can't bash the company, no, no, no."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    The rule of law is laid down by a Govt, not an economic system.

    You're schizophrenic argument is flawed in too many ways by overlapping a legal standing with an economic method. It doesn't matter what economic system this contract was written in conjunction to, it holds the signer legally bound by the law of that Govt, regardless of Capitalism, Socialism, Statism, etc…

    Your hatred/bias has blinded you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why sign with Machinima?

    That seems to correspond with my recent notions that perhaps the core problem is the system that produces these large monopolies that people have to work in. It may just be the capitalist system that disproportionately rewards the rich and powerful over the small and weak.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    U m a d , b r o ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I agree, as in how you idiots prove yet again you know zero about the music biz: Apple gives artists 70%, it doesn't take that number.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not seeing what point you're trying to make here. Derailing is derailing, and no one does it better than Lowery's cronies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    What else do we have? Communism has been tried many places and in many versions and failed every time. The moderate socialism in place in some parts of Europe has some improvements, but other detriments.

    Actually, if you look at the economic history of Socialism they are pretty successful. From 1917 to 1980, Russia went from a nation rife with a civil war, foreign invasions and internal problems to the second super power. We also can't forget that Mao did a lot of good for the Chinese . Right now, Latin America has a lot of co-ops and is growing stronger while Iceland has become a source for inspiration in terms of democratic socialism.

    The key to it all is democracy and allowing all people to have a voice no larger how small. The US, being the oldest democracy, needs a lot of changes implemented in order to create a democracy that actually listens to its own people. It also needs to do away with cheap labor in regards to slavery and "right to work" laws. Also, there needs to be ways that the masses can speak to representatives about what they want in their democracy.

    There is indeed a lot to fix and the system we have doesn't do that. So it's time to create laws that can begin to take these powers of the people and magnify them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    The rule of law is decided by the people we elect. That's what a modern democracy is all about.

    I have no idea how my argument is schizo but ok... That's a really weird way to make claims on an argument you don't want to understand.

    The basic issue (as I see it) is that Machinima has gotten powerful enough to exploit others in their pursuit of the almighty dollar. The YouTube system is filled with false infringement claims, money hungry studios and plenty of studios that look for ways to make money quickly and pay the producers less.

    To me, it's a very bad business model that invites tension between the producer and financier. You might not agree but it's really not about the other forms of governance that may succeed or not. It's about the perverse incentives that this story is laying out for all to see.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    You’re having trouble telling the difference between what a legal governmental system is compared to an economic system. Capitalism does not hold people legally in a contract, the governmental legal system does. And by contrast, the Govt is not a commerce system. Thus my schizophrenic remark.

    "The rule of law is decided by the people we elect. That's what a modern democracy is all about."

    Democracy has nothing to do with Capitalism. Socialist France is a Democracy. Communist China is starting to practice Capitalism.

    "The basic issue (as I see it) is that Machinima has gotten powerful enough to exploit others in their pursuit of the almighty dollar."

    The person signed a contract, of his own Free Will, locking him into the terms of the contract run by the legal system. Not having a lawyer look at the contract before he signed it was stupid on his part. No one forced him to sign it. The terms of the contract are based in the legal system, not the commerce system.

    The “Life” terms he is contesting have nothing to do with money, he is free to go make money playing music in a bar, becoming an accountant or doctor. He just can't go on YouTube and make videos, oh well, should have read the contract.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 1:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Capitalism is the core issue

    You’re having trouble telling the difference between what a legal governmental system is compared to an economic system. Capitalism does not hold people legally in a contract, the governmental legal system does. And by contrast, the Govt is not a commerce system.

    Um, no. I can tell the difference just fine. The economic system in place is capitalism in America where the source of tension in corporations is the tension of the worker and employer in how much value they produce for a company. The excess value translates to profits so long as it is more than the work put into the company.

    Capitalism is highly exploitative and in my view, it produces a very combative system of haves and have nots. You might not agree, but that doesn't make me schizo just for noticing that as Machinima lays off more workers and makes contacts in perpetuity, it creates more tension for producers to create more, which seems to be the source of the problem.

    Democracy has nothing to do with Capitalism. Socialist France is a Democracy. Communist China is starting to practice Capitalism.

    You seem interested in creating strawmen here... Democracy, as explained above, can be usurped by the capitalist system which leads to income disparity. Why is it that the income inequality gap is wise than any other time in history? Why do you think we have elected officials that take bribes for campaign donations while our civil rights are destroyed? Why do you think workers have very little say in their politics, which translates to no voice in federal government? It has to do with the disparity that the economic system fosters, a rugged individualism which is nothing more than a utopian version of a cowboy tale. Democracy appears when everyone has an equal voice in their politics and capitalism world to usurp that for the needs of the select few.


    The person signed a contract, of his own Free Will, locking him into the terms of the contract run by the legal system. Not having a lawyer look at the contract before he signed it was stupid on his part. No one forced him to sign it. The terms of the contract are based in the legal system, not the commerce system.


    Let's put this into ideological terms that you should be able to follow...

    The person is contracting out his labor for the services he provides. Machinima takes that labor and gets paid from it. The contract as written is the tool to enforce that. However, as a society, we agree that any type of indentured servitude is a bad thing. We don't like to think of ourselves as serfs or peasants who have little knowledge but are able to sell our labor at someone else's benefit.

    Which is the point I'm making. There is a growing tension between the producers of content here and the financier who is paid in excess by exploiting the producers for more content at a cheaper price than before.

    Because you know what happens if you can get more work out of producers than they put in? Well, your profit margins and your bonus will be pretty great.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 1:19am

    Anyone have more info about this?

    I just saw this. Following the money does make for interesting reading.

    ReadWrite – Did YouTube Buy Fake VEVO Video Views? "His original views bot was so successful, spk claims, that Google approached him and asked him to bot videos for VEVO back when the music conglomerate first started putting content on YouTube.

    "... spk alleged he was originally hired as a coding and system maintenance employee for YouTube in 2007, but in 2009 was told to bot VEVO videos.

    "... YouTube declined to comment on spk's claims of employment or botting, but a company representative did confirm that spk received a large monetary sum from Google for identifying a security risk. And spk, whose real name has been redacted upon his request, is listed on the Google Hall of Fame security site."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 3:22am

    Shouldn't such contracts be illegal in the first place? Also, aren't contracts breakable?

    In any case I'd start producing videos shaming the company till they broke their contract with me ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 11:10am

    Re:

    ya know... people in film and television have lawyers for this reason...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    identicon
    Karyn, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: shame

    Yeah, I originally signed with a multichannel network and signed up for an annuity and privacy on my view counts and comments. They haven't contacted me in over a year and I can't find them anywhere, so all my money is gone. I guess I'll quit youtube, tunecore, cd baby, 101 distribution and start over.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    Karyn, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: shame

    I mean, I could legally change my name, but I think I am binded to the agreement for life, so if I don't want them to take my money, then I just have to find a new profession.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    identicon
    Karyn, Apr 7th, 2014 @ 12:45pm

    read before you sign dept. Come on! I mean, they change the contracts after you sign them anyway. That's what companies who steal your money do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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