And so the battle continues. YouTube members are striking back at Warner Music Group's recent decision to strip the free, video-sharing site of any music that violates WMG's copyright policies. Users have made a valiant attempt at defaming WMG's decision; posting swarms of 'protest' videos bashing the entertainment corporation, in hopes of reviving their right to 'creative expression' on the web.
Various videos, ranging from a pre-teen girl's woes about her performance of "Winter Wonderland" being removed from the site, to an abrasive man in camouflage ranting about his frustrations with the music label for almost 13 minutes have been posted on YouTube in the last few days by angered users. Though the videos might not be the most proactive way to sway WMG's thick-headedness, they are at least letting YouTube executives know that they are not happy.
As previously reported, YouTube has given members the option of "AudioSwapping" the illegal songs in their videos with one of a full library of licensed tracks okay for use on the site. David Eun, Vice President of Content Partnership with Google, commented on the controversial issue saying, "We're [YouTube] not screwing the labels, and if anything we need to partner more closely with them."
To help in their protest, users may want to cite the fact that in the past year we have seen a great increase in DVD sales thanks to YouTube's ability to freely broadcast media to the public. For example, Monty Python DVD sales have risen exponentially thanks to the Monty Python YouTube page, which has a bunch of clips available for users to watch and enjoy. Record companies should realize the benefit of broadcasting music to users for free on sites like YouTube. If Radiohead's success with In Rainbows wasn't proof enough that when a band's material is easily accessible it leads to a higher profit margin, then what more do major record labels and entertainment corporations want from their customers? It would seem that the ability to control where and how copyrighted content is used is the real issue at the heart of this argument.
Ironically, as YouTube is forced to tighten its threshold of freedom on the web, companies like Apple and Rhapsody are loosening up as customers are now allowed to download DRM-free (digital rights management free) music that can be used on any computer, iPod, or burned onto CD's. This heightens the issue with WMG, as customers who purchase music from these music-web stores feel as if they should be allowed to use their purchased music for their YouTube videos or any other creative outlet they choose.
YouTube will continue to work out the best possible negotiation between WMG and its users, in hopes of creating peace rather than protest. Regardless, if companies like WMG want to ban their music from unlicensed internet use, it would seem they are only hurting themselves and their artists by forgoing the potential promotion and revenue these free sources create. In the meantime, rest assured YouTube users will still find other means to post their work without the hassle of copyright infringement hindering their internet fun.