Yesterday, we had the story of the incredibly popular viral wedding video, talking about how the music in that video, despite being over a year old and being sung by someone with massive reputation problems (Chris Brown, who assaulted his then girlfriend), was suddenly back in both the iTunes and Amazon top 5 downloads, almost entirely because of the video. Soon after the post went up, we saw that Google had just put up its own post highlighting it as a case study of a copyright holder monetizing an opportunity. Basically, Google allowed Sony Music to:
claim and monetize the song, as well as to start running Click-to-Buy links over the video, giving viewers the opportunity to purchase the music track on Amazon and iTunes. As a result, the rights holders were able to capitalize on the massive wave of popularity generated by "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" -- in the last week, searches for "Chris Brown Forever" on YouTube have skyrocketed, making it one of the most popular queries on the site.
But... as some in our comments began to wonder, shouldn't the folks in the video (or, perhaps the person who shot it) get some of that monetizing as well? After all, if we base our thinking on traditional RIAA-style thinking, the whole reason why there are suddenly so many new sales and renewed interest in Brown and this song is entirely due to this wedding party and whoever shot the video. Now, they might not want or care about the money, but just the fact that Google is hyping up the monetizing of the video... doesn't something seem wrong that the actual copyright holder of the video in question isn't getting any of that money? At the very least, shouldn't there be some sort of "referral bonus" or some such?
By now, you've probably seen the video of the wedding party entrance for the wedding of Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz (if not, go check it out). It's been seen by many millions of people, and the number just keeps on growing. The wedding party entrance is choreographed as the entire wedding party dances enthusiastically to Chris Brown's song Forever. The video, of course is almost certainly copyright infringement. Even if we assume that the church in St. Paul where this took place paid its public performance license, that would only cover the venue, not the eventual rebroadcast on YouTube. Now there are some who will insist that every streamed version of this song should require that a fee be paid. But, of course, if that were the case, this video almost certainly would not have been put on YouTube and would not have been seen by so many millions of people.
And what would have happened then?
Well, JohnForDummies notes that the success of this video is having a major impact for Chris Brown (who's reputation is, reasonably, in tatters for assaulting his then girlfriend, the singer Rihanna). Not that we advocate supporting someone who assaulted his girlfriend, but the video is having an impact. The song Forever has jumped into the iTunes top 10, despite having been released over a year ago. Also, the video itself has greatly outpaced an attempt by Brown to create a viral video "apologizing" for his actions.
It's not clear how the record label (in this case, a subsidiary of Sony Music) feels about this (see update below) -- though, I will note that embedding has been disabled on the video (Update: Embedding enabled again, so I'm adding the video below) and there is a link to buy the song on the YouTube page. At the very least, this suggests that Sony (which has a good relationship with YouTube, unlike some others...) worked out a deal to take advantage of the publicity around the video. Though, the disabling of embedding seems rather pointless. Embedding the video would likely guarantee far more views, and with it, more purchases.
Update: Thanks to a bunch of folks sending in the news that Google is now promoting this as a case study of a rights holder taking control over content.
Update: Embedding has been re-enabled, so here you go:
Also... there's already been an amazing spoof video of the couple's "divorce" proceedings:
I don't think Sony's "taken control" of this one yet...
I'm beginning to wonder if NBC Universal simply sends General Counsel Rick Cotton out to the press to make the most ridiculous, unsupportable statements for their PR value. Otherwise, you have to wonder how the man keeps his job, as pretty much any of his well-publicized statements should make shareholders question his business acumen. This is the guy who claimed that the government should force ISPs to filter unauthorized content because piracy was causing poor corn farmers to lose money (despite the fact that corn farmers are doing better than ever, and there's no evidence that they're impacted by piracy either way -- people can eat popcorn during pirated movies, too). He also suggested that police would be better off spending less on stopping bank robberies and more on piracy. Seriously. Then he was happy that NBC made it difficult for people to watch the Olympics online.
His latest claim doesn't quite reach the level of some of his earlier statements, but again it has you scratching your head over how he can have the confidence of his bosses. Over the weekend, he was apparently complaining that the only reason YouTube was worth $1.5 billion to Google was because the video of SNL's Andy Samberg "Lazy Sunday." He claims that YouTube received all of the benefit of this piracy, which catapulted it to stardom.
First of all, this simply isn't true. As a YouTube representative who follows Cotton noted, the Lazy Sunday video is pretty much impossible to pick out of YouTube's log files, since it had such little impact on traffic. But, more importantly, this is yet another case of a content provider overvaluing the content and undervaluing the delivery platform. Cotton seems to ignore the fact that the Lazy Sunday video on YouTube almost single-handedly brought a ton of people back to SNL after having given the show up. It made people pay more attention to SNL, in particular other Samberg videos.
Furthermore, if it's actually true that NBC got no value out of Lazy Sunday being on YouTube, then the entire NBC management team deserves to be fired. It was such a fantastic opportunity to rebuild SNL's brand, and here's one of the company's top executives flat-out admitting that he blew it. He really wants people to believe that he's so inept that a tiny startup with barely any revenue could capitalize on something that he could not? It's either amazing what poor vision NBC's management has, or it's just stunning that Cotton keeps his job.
silverscarcat: Well, Mike, I'm glad that you had it in the upcoming posts, I called my senators and rep today about it right after I read it. Jay: Wow... Some Guy created a new form of acronym for the DMCA. Automated Rights Trampling System. I think I'll use ARTS from now on. silverscarcat: Well, this is so true. Someone needs to tell their Senators that they're fulfilling what Bin Laden said in 2001. "I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life." - Osama Bin Laden, in sole post 9/11 interview dennis deems: http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/05/reporters-use-google-find-breach-get-branded-as-hackers/ Jay: @Dennis It seems that hacker has become the new witch hunt... silverscarcat: BURN THE WITCH! Man, AJ has lost his marbles. Imagine if the law was not only working against DRM but paywalls... bob and AJ would be foaming at the mouth. Rikuo: paywalls? I wonder - since the new Xbox requires anyone getting a used game to pay for access to it (a paywall) what will bob say about it? silverscarcat: I won't be getting one, I know that much. A lot of gamers aren't either. As long as Sony doesn't do the same thing, they'll be the clear favorites for this generation along with the Wii-U Jay: By the Gods is the Xbox One a horrendous DRM machine... Rikuo: neither will I. Swapping games between friends is a time-honoured practice, and Microsoft just spit all over that. I won't be getting a PS4, it doesn't do anything a PC doesn't, and there is literally nothing on the Wii U that I want to play (so far) silverscarcat: Well, we'll see, Sony might be a jackass of a company, but they tend to put out good games. Jay: Ok... So that's what the Xbox is about... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbWgUO-Rqcw They're marketing to Hollywood and sports... They lost the public, gained the ESPN and Fox crowd silverscarcat: Heh, well, they'll sell a lot of consoles with those two markets, but they won't sell games.