Sunday, August 2, 2009

Going beyond takedown notices

Chris Brown Click to Buy Ad on Jill Peterson a...Image by stevegarfield via Flickr

It's an understatement to say that digital publishing causes concerns for traditional publishers. Having a digital version of media available -- regardless of who did the digitizing -- effectively eliminates the control of distribution. Digital files are inherently copyable and sharable, and any business model that relies on the prevention of digital files being copied is doomed to fail.

A much better expenditure of energy is answering this question: what new methods of compensation can be created that allows monies to flow to the rights-holders? Take the case of R&B star Chris Brown. His song "Forever" was the inspiration behind the Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz's wedding party video that has had over 14 million views on YouTube -- so far. Chris received no direct compensation for these plays, as he would have had they been played on MTV, radio or other "traditional" distribution venues that pay into various clearinghouses and ultimately compensate rights-holders for airtime.

Not long ago, Chris' (or more likely the label that owns the rights to the song) only recourse would have been to exercise his copyright and demand YouTube take down the offending video. Yes, there could also have been a suit filed against the couple due to copyright infringement. It's been done before. But that's not what happened.

Instead, Chris (or his label) was able to monetize the views on YouTube, thanks to some innovative thinking on the part of YouTube. You can read about the short case study here. Is this the be-all-end-all solution? Nope. But it's smart. And it shows a new type of thinking that embraces the digital work, rather than attempting to shut down a Good Thing.

Let creative people create. Let rights-holders monetize those creations. Seems a win-win to me. What do you think?

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  1. Great post, Evo. I also think this is a cool way for Chris Brown to benefit from this distribution of his song.

    Interestingly, the second wave of commentary about this YouTube monetization model is that the filmmakers themselves (essentially, the dude holding the vidcam) aren't being compensated for their contribution -- i.e., if it weren't for the video going wildly viral, Chris Brown would never have had the opportunity to monetarily benefit in the first place.

    I'm on the fence about this. I'm all for people being compensated for their creative work, and it's indisputable that the monetization opp never would've existed without their contribution. But perhaps being permitted to keep the video online is all the "payment" the filmmakers deserve.

  2. Great to see labels FINALLY being smart with free publicity. Forever wouldn't have seen the top 100 if not for this.

  3. Grahame A from the UKAugust 3, 2009 at 12:04 AM

    We saw this video in church yesterday! ;-)

    Grahame A from the UK

  4. J.C. - I think it has to do with intent. Chris Brown wrote the song for one reason: to make money off of it. The people who made the video didn't. They wanted people to see it. And people saw it. I don't see how they have invested intellectual capital to the equation. If anything, they are unwitting partners in an explosion. But I don't see a threshold where a video goes so viral that there should be direct compensation for the creators. Now, if the people who made the video were really a production company and had digital assets or services available for sale, I see no issue with someone figuring out how to monetize that for them.

  5. conspiracy theory: does anyone think the viral effect was too strong to be true -- i.e. it was not substantiated by the detected social intensity?

    here’s the evidence, judge for yourself


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