Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ask Not What Your Country Can Pay To You...

From the What Is The World Coming To? Department...

A lot of entities have a huge stake in the constant copyright battle that is YouTube. There's a great deal of disparity among the combatants. Some, like CBS, have laid down their arms, brokered deals, and wrapped their arms around the Grawp-like social media behemoth. Others continue to treat it more like a Goliath that must be struck down with the pebble that is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

One might be able to understand the struggle over content when it comes to pieces that were obviously produced for commercial retail. Though I feel a music video's presence on YouTube is in the long run beneficial for the artist and record company, I can see their argument over the distribution of their copyrighted material. I can see television studios argument over the placement of clips from the Daily Show or clips from shows like Smallville or Gilmore Girls on the service. (However, if you gave me a choice between watching a grainy four inch flash version of the show versus buying the DVD and watching it in all its gloriousness on my widescreen HDTV, the choice would be a no-brainer.) In the smallest way, I can understand sort of why restaurant staff can't sing "Happy Birthday To You" without it being considered a public performance for pay and thereby subjecting them to copyright violation liability, at least until the year 2030, when the song, written in 1893, will finally fall into the public domain, providing that the copyright isn't renewed. (Okay, I lied. I can't understand that one.)

But what I simply can't understand is the fact that some are suing YouTube over NEWS FOOTAGE. In particular, the greatest threat to YouTube at this moment is a man by the name of Bob Tur. You have no clue who he is, but you've seen his video footage of the beating of Reginald Denny during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles millions of times. His video, shot from a helicopter, was the centerpiece of most newscasts, and to this day the images therein are iconic of one of the ugliest days in our nation's short history.

Bob Tur is hopping mad because nobody is paying him to watch this video on YouTube. Not that he hasn't already had a huge payday from it already. To date, Bob has made approximately $5 million from licensing the video. Bob and his company, Los Angeles News Service, also own the majority of video of the O.J. Simpson bronco chase, which has made them wealthy beyond most of our wildest dreams.

I wonder how much Bob Tur pays Reginald Denny every time he licenses out the video that shows him getting his brains beaten in. I wonder if Bob ever thought of landing his helicopter, which had already sustained $200,000 in damage, in order to try to help Denny, instead of doing as he did, which was to just stay in the air filming it while gangbangers shot at the chopper. I guess if there's not a payday, Bob won't do it.

The question in my mind is this: in the future, what will be our country's recorded history? Will it be a compendium of licensed accounts? Will stuff be left out of it simply because the author of the book or the films can't afford to license recorded history? When we recount the horrific images of 9/11, will we be able to show children 30 years from now the spine-tingling image of a plane crashing into a tower, or will CNN or Bob Tur own the right to that? One can only imagine John F. Kennedy trademarking his "ask not what your country can do for you," and history writers being forced to give royalties to his estate every time they print it. What if we had to pay the family of Benjamin Franklin every time an almanac was used, or worse yet, each of the sayings from them?

Another day...another step toward Orwell's vision...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Party Like a White Girl

The following YouTube video comes from none other than American Idol Season 5's own Marcie Smith. (If you don't remember, she was the one who was Brenna Gethers' arch-nemesis in Hollywood.)

Apparently Marcie has quite a sense of humor, and she shares my love for the Shop Boyz song "Party Like a Rock Star."

After you've watched the video, which parodies the song, as well as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears (in that order), check out Marcie online at Check out her more serious material. She's a really great person and totally talented.