Lots of news, my quick takes
Mark Cuban's subpoenaing YouTube.
He wants the identities of people who are pirating his content. He's already made it clear that he doesn't intend to sue anyone with the information.
I don't care that the conventional wisdom on the web has turned against this guy - I love him. He's relentless, passionate and most of the time he's reasonable. He has no clue what leadership is on a basketball team, and that's one of the reasons the Mavs are perpetual chokers, but still - he's a smart dude.
Everyone's looking at this as Cuban attacking Goo-Tube, but that's not it at all. What he's really doing is testing the DCMA and making clear that the safe harbor provisions that protect YouTube and other "hosting companies" are designed to erode our privacy as users. If YouTube doesn't take responsibility for the copyright infringement, they are passing it on to you the user. And in order to maintain safe harbor, they're required to pass along all kinds of information that can be used against us. This is one of many really dangerous flaws in the DCMA, a piece of legislation that was hand crafted by special interests to be GOOD for the telecoms and the big content owners and BAD for users. Cuban's written extensively on this in the past, and if he can shine a light on these problems with his subpoenas, good for him.
For the record, though, I disagree completely with Cuban's analysis of what makes a hosting company and what doesn't. If they function as advertised, YouTube is indeed a hosting company. But if they're censoring and preventatively editing copyrighted material, they lose that safe harbor IMHO.
Michael Eisner's joining my industry! His new web studio Vuguru (I bet the focus group that came up with the name "Vuguru" cost more than our annual budget for Wallstrip) is launching with a soap opera targeted at teenaged girls. 80 episodes, 90 seconds each.
I like that they're launching their show with open distribution. You can watch it on Youtube, Veoh (which Eisner owns a piece of), as well as on their own destination site. I also like that they are partnering with Elle magazine and distributed the show on Elle's site. Ultimately, brand owners are going to become content providers on the web, not just advertising. That Vuguru's already building their distribution strategy in this direction is a very good sign. But ultimately, the question is will the content draw audience. When that happens, it's time to take notice.
More interesting to me was NBC's announcement that NBC Sports will be creating original web video for Sports Illustrated. Original content distributed where you're audience already is spending time on the web - that's moving in the right direction for NBC. A content company acting like a content company instead of a distribution company. Like it.
And, of course, Viacom slapped a one billion dollar lawsuit on YouTube. I'm not even going to link to it because the story's so ubiquitous that it was on the cover of the free AM magazine this morning in NYC. Just read about it where you get your news.
No big suprises here. If you read this blog, you already know that YouTube has a shut-off valve. The big question here is whether Viacom's doing this to kill YouTube or as a negotiating tactic to get a better deal. The "kill YouTube" option was a whole lot more attractive pre-Google than it is today, so my guess is that this is a negotiating tactic.
Either way, it will be interesting. And that's why we're all watching...