from the that's-how-it's-done dept
These days, we hear way too many stories of content creators absolutely flipping out about fans enhancing their work in some way. Most recently, we were quite disappointed to see the “Real Calvin and Hobbes” — a fan site that superimposed the comic strip images on real photographs that matched the original scenes — get shut down due to aggressive lawyering. So, we’re always happy to see artists, who really seem to “get it,” recognize that when fans build on the things you’ve done, it’s because they’re fans and want to do more with the experience, and to share it with others. That’s why it was quite interesting, in listening to the latest episode of the always awesome Hollywood Babble-On podcast with Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith, that they had a revealing discussion after a fan emailed in about a plan to release “enhanced” versions of the podcasts on YouTube.
If you’re not a fan of the podcast, it involves the two hosts, in front of a live audience, discussing show business, hilariously. One part of the show is that it includes images and videos that they comment on. Many of these are from the week’s news, but there are other amusing segments, such as “shit that should not be” in which they highlight a clip from a film each week where someone screwed up and allowed something into the film that shouldn’t have been there (e.g., you can see the camera crew, or someone in the background is doing something stupid). When listening to the podcast, it can sometimes be a bit strange, since you can’t see the images and videos that they use. To deal with that, they also put up all the images and videos on the site when the podcast goes live. I’ll usually try to check it out sometime the following week.
So, in this latest episode, a fan emailed to say that he was going to put together “enhanced” versions of the podcast on YouTube, in which he’d insert the images and videos at the appropriate points so that if you listened to it via YouTube, you could take a look when the visual stuff comes up. Not that useful if you’re listening while driving or something but if you’re just, say, listening at your desk, it might make for a nice alternative. It’s somewhat amusing to hear the reactions of Garman and Smith as they walk through this, and I actually think that Smith’s reaction is the kind of thought process in action that many creative folks go through when they realize that people are doing something with their stuff: the first thought is — instinctually — to be concerned about someone else doing something with their stuff, but then the quick realization that, wait, this is a good thing, and if it’s a good thing, maybe they should team up. So, within a few seconds, it goes from Smith somewhat jokingly suggesting that this is “stealing” to him saying that he now wants to give the guy money each week to do the same thing:
Garman: Doug did a very cool thing. He says I’m going to post uncut episodes of Hollywood Babble-On on YouTube. But I’m going to stick whatever pictures and videos are included in the show throughout the course of it…. What he’s done is he’s run the audio underneath and then laid all the stuff on top of it so you can watch it on YouTube in one sitting.
Smith: It would be better if he did it on our channel, rather than stealing our content and putting it on his channel. And just because he’s putting our fucking pictures under it as well, that seems like theft to me, no? Especially since he’s putting it on his YouTube channel, if you get enough hits and stuff, they’ll give you some fucking money and shit. I mean, I’m not one of those cats who’s like ‘don’t bootleg’ because I used to get bootlegs back in the day… but I’m still alive, bitch. This is all I got is this fucking Babble-On show. Don’t take this away from me and Ralph.
Garman: Doug, you’ll be hearing from our lawyers, was what I meant to say.
Smith: Yeah, just do it for our channel. Do it for our channel and will throw him a couple bucks every week. I love that shit, man. Just do it for us.
Smith: I’ll give him shit in advance. I’ll give him the podcast in advance so that by the time the podcast drops, the YouTube episode can drop as well…. There’s no point in fighting it. I mean, you can’t fight the creative urge. This dude loves our art so much…
Garman: Well, he likes to watch it on his Xbox which has a YouTube app, so he can sit there…
Smith: Bingo. He’s loves our shit. It makes him want to make his own shit. And you don’t want to stifle that and be like “fucking don’t do that or we’ll sue you.” What you want to do is fucking recruit him and be like “help us do it” and fucking work together and shit….
And… boom, this week’s episode (the one where they discuss this very idea) comes complete with an enhanced YouTube version that is posted on Smith’s own Seesmod YouTube channel. If you want to hear the actual discussion transcribed above, it’s at about 28:12 in the video below:
To many of us, of course, this kind of thing makes quite a lot of sense. If your fans are doing awesome stuff with your stuff, see if there are ways to work together to make it better for everyone. And, yet, it still seems like too many people instead stick with the instinctual reaction of “that’s against the law!” and immediately call the lawyers. How much more interesting a world would it be if more people looked for the upside when fans embrace the artwork they love?
Update: Kevin Smith stopped by to provide some more detail, including explaining that, coincidentally, people working with him were already working on something like this, which is why they put up this clip, and it’s not actually by the guy who had emailed him, but he’s still reaching out. Um, and he also says that Techdirt is mentioned in Clerks III.