Commentary

YouTube: Free Clips Boost DVD Sales

For years, industry observers have wondered both how YouTube will make money and how it will stem complaints about piracy. With its newly expanded click-to-buy program, the site seems poised to kill two birds with one stone.  

In a blog post, YouTube touts the program by highlighting an increase in sales of Monty Python DVDs after the group made dozens of clips available for free at a dedicated Monty Python channel.

"When Monty Python launched their channel in November, not only did their YouTube videos shoot to the top of the most viewed lists, but their DVDs also quickly climbed to No. 2 on Amazon's Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent," YouTube boasted.

While the Monty Python channel itself is official, and obviously doesn't infringe on the entertainers' copyright, the conclusion would apply equally to pirated content: Making entertainment available for free increases demand, which ultimately results in sales.

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Groups like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails already proved that people will pay for music that's available for free. People obviously pay for DVDs of TV shows like "Seinfeld," that are still available on the air for free.

Yet, big media companies nonetheless insist on sending takedown notice after takedown notice to YouTube (and other video-sharing sites), in attempts to control how their content is distributed. And Viacom is still pursuing a copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube for hosting clips from shows like "South Park."

The marked increase in sales of Monty Python should make these companies reconsider whether they wouldn't be better served by partnering with YouTube instead of continually fighting the site and the users who post clips.

2 comments about "YouTube: Free Clips Boost DVD Sales".
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  1. M F from Personal View, January 23, 2009 at 7 p.m.

    Wendy - You're missing the studio's argument entirely. Absolutely SOME clips work as promotions. Studios put parts of movies in trailers, on television in commercials and on talk shows. Some even do it on YouTube. But Youtube claims it has the right to put the whole movie up (which has happened many times) and that YouTube has the right to decide what's promotional and what isn't. The issue is who decides - the movie's producer - who came up with the idea, raised millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, who worked for years with writers, directors, actors, composers and many other hardworking and creative people - or YouTube. YouTube is deliberately diverting attention to the wrong issue.

  2. Alice Wessendorf, January 24, 2009 at 5:34 p.m.

    I hope this places another nail in the "piracy" coffin.

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