Media giants spoil Youtube

U-Wire and U-Wire

Recently you may have noticed that some of your favorite YouTube videos have gone silent, stripped of their audio tracks due to copyright violation. This is part of an ongoing and sad trend. Since YouTube was purchased for $1.65 billion in late 2006, the Web site has had a steady decline in the quality of its content.

The enforcement of copyright infringement on the site does not just hurt the entertainment value of one of the Internet’s most popular sites; ironically, it also denies music, television and movie companies free advertisement of their products.

YouTube has the potential to increase the sales of entertainment products, which would be realized if copyright laws were enforced by entertainment companies in a reasonable fashion. The lack of quality videos on YouTube is why online video competitors with real entertainment to offer will eventually destroy the YouTube world as we know it.

NBC, Fox and many other television networks have already realized that free online media is a profitable way to sell entertainment. Using Web sites such as Hulu.com, networks have profited by offering full episodes of their shows online for a limited time.

Disney places so much confidence in the success of Hulu that it recently bought a 30 percent stake in the Web site. Soon, several Disney original programs like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives will become available in their entirety through Hulu.

In addition to the revenue created by brief commercials, networks are advertising profitable DVD seasons of their shows. If the programs are successful enough, people will still purchase box sets in order to watch the shows in their entirety.

If someone enjoys a program enough, they will be more than willing to pay even for the convenience of enjoying it on an actual television, with neither commercials nor censors to detract from the entertainment.

Music and film companies should learn their lesson about the American consumer through Hulu’s success. Through YouTube and similar Web sites, music singles could be broadcast cheaply and efficiently.

Already, fans of musicians upload songs with videos of them doing their own pitiful music videos in the background, advertising CD and MP3 downloads at no cost to the company. If the music offered is good enough, people will pay for the ability to listen to the music without seeing three teenage girls lip-syncing into a microphone.

Allowing viewers access to poor quality content encourages viewers who are entertained to purchase the original film, show or song.

Companies using Hulu have already shown that the way forward for media is through free entertainment. It would be in everyone’s best interest for the companies to extend the same copyright liberties granted to Hulu to YouTube.

Rather than maximizing media outlets, music and film companies have let greed prevent earning more money. Instead of denouncing the Internet as a venue for the theft of their products, companies need to relax the enforcement of their copyrights to advertise to a wider audience.

There is always profit to be had in movies, music and television. The Internet can and should be used as a tool to increase that revenue, if only the entertainment industry would set aside their short-term gains for long-term profits.