Granted, after a weekend full of U.N. showdowns and island-resort earthquakes, it seems a little myopic to obsess over what’s going to happen with YouTube. But obsess we must, especially with the news that the copyright-holding conglomerates are getting ready for a showdown:
…lawyers for the group of media companies, which includes News Corp., General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal and Viacom Inc., have concluded that YouTube could be liable to copyright penalties of $150,000 per unauthorized video, people familiar the matter say. Viacom believes that pirated versions of video clips from its cable channels — including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon — are watched 80,000 times a day via YouTube. At that rate, potential penalties could run into the billions of dollars.
Throwing out that absurd $150K figure is likely just a huff-and-puff show of force, but make no mistake: The YouTube we’ve come to love is slowly being snuffed out. In fact, we’ve already heard a few anecdotal accounts of the site stepping up its efforts to remove unauthorized material, so if you’ve seen the increased crackdown first-hand, let us know at email@example.com. That way, we can keep up on what’s going down.
And in the meantime, enjoy this impossible-to-believe clip of James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince all sharing the same stage, which is just the sort of jaw-dropping material that could soon start to vanish. If YouTube starts to police itself, where else will we go to find footage of a tiny elf from Minneapolis strip off his clothes mid-guitar solo?