The best things in life are free, but from the looks of it, YouTube is in the process of making steps towards compromise with major label moguls that will make the free site just like any other media sharing site these days; equipped with user charges. Whether or not these steps YouTube is taking is in the direction of the user's benefit we are not sure, but regardless the company's new course of action is attempting to create an equilibrium between itself and the money lovin' media conglomerates that want to sabotage our internet freedoms and fun. Don't they know there's a recession?
No deal has been officially announced yet, but YouTube and Sony have finalized plans that would allow Sony's music and media to be streamed on the internet media-sharing site at a nominal cost, so you can look forward to getting your daily guilty-pleasure "Single Ladies" fix back if you've been missing out. YouTube plans on using the Creative Commons License option on the site, which would give owners of videos the option to allow downloads or sharing of their work. Users would have the ability to utilize Google Checkout, letting them opt to offer videos for free or for a small fee. The site hopes that this feature will not only benefit big wigs like Sony, but also the little guys like us.
The idea is very similar to the philosophy behind Flickr, which allows users to showcase their photos to the public without full credit, or requires the owner's permission to use the content. YouTube would require users to sign up as "partners," signing additional agreements, before they uploaded content to the site. The idea is to prevent copyright infringement, as reported by Wired.
YouTube hopes to create a new type of revenue stream, that will help both users and YouTube, itself profit from their video sharing collaborations. The revenue shares between YouTube and companies like Sony would equate to about half a penny per clip. So is this really worth it in the long run to make such grave changes on the already user-friendly site for just a few pennies of revenue increase? On a recent YouTube blog Thai Tran, product manager of the site, said "We are always looking for ways to make it easier for you to find, watch, and share videos...," but we're left wondering if this will make life more complicated.
Other companies like RealNetworks who own music/media sharing sites like Rhapsody have already been working with a similar system to that of what YouTube is proposing, and user numbers speak for their successes and failures. Rhapsody for example, has over 775,000 users that pay for subscriptions to download media from their site. Compared to the millions who use YouTube on a daily basis, this number is fractional, and could be a foreshadowing figure of what could happen to YouTube's user base when content becomes pricey.
Could YouTube become a falling fad like that of the soon-to-be bankrupt Sirius XM, who is feeling the woes of becoming an outdated technology that can't keep up with the jones' due to membership fees and the competition of free internet technology in the palms of users hands? We sure hope not, but perhaps YouTube has finally discovered the link between pleasing users and preventing piracy charges so all of our internet woes will be put to rest.