Oh Look, Viral Video On YouTube Boosting Sales… And Reputation For Chris Brown

from the take-it-down! dept

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…

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Companies: google, sony music, youtube

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Comments on “Oh Look, Viral Video On YouTube Boosting Sales… And Reputation For Chris Brown”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Exactly. Sometimes I wished that rights holders would just send an email to the poster. It could be something like this:

“Hey, I saw your video on YouTube, and it seems you don’t have a rights agreement with us established. Because it’s a great video and we want to promote the artist, we’ll give you rights if you contact YouTube and and allow us to sell links to the music on your video.”

What a simple solution. Win-Win-Win.

zcat (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They don’t even have to.

Google have the framework in place for rightsholders to upload a sample of their own content, automatically identify all of the videos on youtube where that content appears (even if it’s not bit-for-bit identical; even when it’s just background music like in this video) and then choose what to do about that content. They don’t need the assistance or permission of the video’s uploader to do any of this.

Sony have chosen to treat the video as a free viral advertisement for the music, adding a link so that people can buy the CD or mp3 download. As a result Chris brown is in the top ten on itunes and amazon, and everyone is making a shitload more money.

Warner Music Group generally opt to take the video down or remove the soundtrack. as a result they get no advertising revenue or promotional benefit at all. Also everyone thinks they’re a bunch of assholes, just read some of the comments on videos where the soundtrack has been stripped..

Anonymous Cowherd (profile) says:

Is the light starting to come on?

So instead of freaking out and demanding a takedown or huge fees, someone realized the promotional value of the video and decided to capitalize on it? And monetize it as well – sales of the year old song have surged appreciably. You have people making a video including the music for free, promoting the music for free and just now someone is figuring out how to take advantage?

Anonymous Coward says:


This is a great example of one way to monetize something free. However, shouldn’t the folks in the video (and the perosn that made it) share in the profits? If not for the video there would be nothing to monetize. Seems really lame that Sony gets all the profit. The folks that made and appeared in the video deserve their cut too – directly from Sony. This is a double win for Sony, free advertising and lots of sales. The video is free to the world but when Sony starts to make money from it then it should no longer be free to Sony.

interval says:

Re: Lame

@AC: “…shouldn’t the folks in the video (and the perosn that made it) share in the profits?”

No. Fair use doesn’t mean “fair share of profits due the copyright holder.” Now if the bride ‘n groom (or the video shooter, whomeever) wrote their own song and added it to the video…

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re: Lame

Because the profit is coming from people buying the song. They are not buying the video; it was uploaded for free to YouTube by the couple. Google then has the right to put whatever promotional advertising they desire around it since it is their site, and Sony is entitled to all profits contractually afforded it. Now if Sony had entered into a contract with the couple to give them a share of profits prior to using the song, then in that case they would be entitled to profits. If people dislike this situation, they are certainly welcome to not promote songs on YouTube in the future…

Berry (profile) says:

Re: Lame

I agree with you Lame, what about the Video maker / Videographer and the rest of the participant in these viral videos or any other ones achieving great popularity but get no $$$ at the end.
It could be that there was some kind of profit made, but not in a publicly visible manner because after all these are Sony and they don’t want o makeup this sleeping giant.
Imagine all viral video makers asking for money before anyone can use them to their own advantage. I found this website with a strange name http://www.GollyGoose.com (funny), if their mission works out I think it will become a reality that every viral video will become a major bargaining chip.

slackr (profile) says:


I realise that Sony and Chris Brown are the winners here and that their use and posting of the video on youtube is questionable. However while Sony may have found a way to monetise this viral video they should also consider the possibility that sharing any of this bonus revenue (they didn’t count on it or invest anything but minimal effort to monetise it) with the newly married couple would further raise the value of the exercise. Whatever “payment” wouldn’t need to be much but it is a golden opportunity to be seen as recognising that Sony aren’t the originators of the popularity driving their sales. We enjoy the video for the visual content not just the audio.

Share the love Sony.

Snidely (profile) says:

This song is an advertisement

What I found interesting was that the song was created for and used in a Doublemint gum ad (note the “double your pleasure, double your fun” line in the song and Chris Brown putting a stick of gum in his mouth in the opening of the actual music video). That’s another example of an artist finding an alternate funding source for creating new music. Though this is clearly product placement, the placement is subtle and doesn’t detract from the overall intent of the song.

On a separate note, the wedding video was the first time I heard Forever and I really liked the song and bought it from iTunes (before the ad link went up). I buy all kinds of music that I hear in TV shows, movies and on the internet. I don’t understand how the big labels can be so clueless as to think that having their music played in the background is hurting sales. Quire the opposite actually.

Carolyn Wood (user link) says:

Oh, Look

Let the uploader beware. The jury is still out on fair use regarding online video content.

No doubt, using Brown’s music ups the odds of creating viral exposure. We play it safe when uploading content for the West Deptford Free Public library using licensed music from a variety of sources including the music of artists showcased in library performances.

BTW – I am still in search of the answer to the most important question. Are the dresses in the original video from J. Crew?

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