Big media -- make that big media content owners -- wants to be even more powerful. But others want a piece of that clout.
In somewhat of a surprise, a federal judge dismissed Viacom's billion-dollar lawsuit against YouTube. Viacom is appealing.
The judge said YouTube acted responsibility in response to Viacom-owned Comedy Central shows, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report," posted on the site by users.
The judge noted that, according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, YouTube took those videos off its site in an appropriate amount of time after Viacom informed it the videos were copyrighted.
All this would seem like a big win for the little guy -- except YouTube really isn't the little guy. YouTube is part of a very big, powerful and growing media company: Google.
Months ago, Viacom got a hold of a number of YouTube emails, basically fingering YouTube executives who seemed to know they had some problems with copyrighted material, and didn't do anything about it. At that point, YouTube hadn't been bought by Google, but was growing dramatically. In one email Chad Hurley, a YouTube co-founder, said: "Let's remove stuff like movies/tv shows. Let's keep short news clips for now. We can become stricter over time, just not overnight."
And this from another YouTube founder, Steve Chen: "We need to start being diligent about rejecting copyrighted/inappropriate content... These guys are the ones that will buy us for big money, so lets [sic] make them happy."
Hmmm.... Then on Wednesday we got this public statement from a Google general counsel: "This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the Web to communicate and share experiences with each other."
All that is nice and warm, for sure. But users sharing "experiences" that come from lifting entire TV episodes or parts of episodes doesn't seem terribly pressing.
Have I missed the placards from the YouTube supporters in Hollywood or in Times Square, demonstrating for the ability to take TV network shows and do what they want with them? Are we holding back the creativity of the U.S consumer in this ever-expanding media world -- or just holding back potential Internet billionaires?