Avoid YouTube if you wanna ReMix and MashUp
Wanna know how far from Read/Write culture we really are? The news that YouTube lawyers are going after people who provide tools to help download videos (an essential step if you are going to remix the conntent) makes me feel sick.
Lawrence Lessig got my attention when he posted ‘More bad karma: When Web 2.0 meets lawyers 1.0‘ which references the TechCrunch post ‘Huh? YouTube Sends TechCrunch A Cease & Desist‘ that is currently doing the rounds in the meme-o-sphere.
It’s one thing that YouTube became the current ‘darling of the internet’ without explicitly providing download UI, it is quite another thing to prevent the ecosystem from providing tools to do so. It is a sad and sorry-arsed day for Read/Write culture and creativity in general. Here is my take on why:
First, the value of our emerging digital, read/write world is underpinned by the very nature of bits (rather than atoms) – every time you use em you copy em. Any mechanism that tries to restrict these valuable properties (like DRM or ‘Streaming Only’) can at best restrict the potential value of digital media.
Second, the ReMix culture is where all the action will be in the future. Media that does not get ReMixed will eventually disappear from culture. Media stores that make it easy to find remixable content and download it in exactly the format you want will be the ones that thrive.
Third, content creators are going to have to learn to ‘let go’. History will show that trying to control future uses of digital media is the wrong way to build business models that will ensure there can be financial incentives to create and publish.
So what can YOU do today?
1. Use alternative media stores like blip.tv (which has download built in and appears to be more remix friendly – although the terms of service are so full of arse-covering legalese that Im not sure about that)
2. Set your content free – dont use anything more restrictive than Creative Commons attribution (beware the sting in tail of share alike). Remember the aim is to have your content turn up in searches for media that is suitable for remix. The less control you try to impose on future derivatives of your work, the more likely it is to get remixed. (Beth, pay attention – this subtlety is important).
3. When embarking on a creative project, dont even consider media that is not ‘free’ as in freedom. As for free as in free-beer, I personally hope you find a way to make a shit-load of money by re-mixing my media and that you find a way to acknowledge and reward me that makes sense to both of us.
I’m beginning to wonder if Creative Commons offers TOO MUCH CHOICE. While it is crucial to move from the copyright default of ‘all rights reserved’ to the CC default of ‘some rights reserved’ there are problems whenever we try to control (and therefore restrict) future use of anything digital. The fact that Creative Commons infrastructure provides human, lawyer, and machine readable instructions is brilliant. Flickr currently has nearly 3 million images (cc:attribution) that I can ReMix in work that others can MashUp. I am willing to bet that future Google Searches will make it easy to find AND DOWNLOAD all types of digital media (including YouTube <if it still exists> videos). I am not sure what the future of media licensed with options like ‘no derivatives’ ore ‘share alike’ will be. It is just too risky for creative people to work with this stuff because sooner or later down the re-mix chain there is bound to be an (potentially valuable and world changing) unforseen future use that is prevented by these restrictions.
Here endeth the lesson.
Fang – Mike Seyfang
And worse to throw out tripe like ‘It is important to many of our users who have uploaded and licensed content to YouTube that their content is authorized for streaming-only’ when much of the success of the service was built on ignoring the fact that many of thse users upload copyright material just rubs salt into the wound.