Copyright dramas no happy birthday to YouTube

May 25, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The internet's most successful video-sharing website, YouTube, which celebrates its fifth birthday this month, faces a far less vibrant future if copyright squabbles put an end to creative re-uses of media content, says a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher.

Dr Jean Burgess, from QUT's Creative Industries Faculty, said her research had found increasing copyright conflicts were threatening the diversity of innovative videos available on the popular website, such as movie parodies and video "remixes".

"YouTube is now arguably the biggest online museum of popular culture in the world, but conflicts over copyright are casting doubt over its future," Dr Burgess said.

"YouTube has to answer to advertisers, governments and traditional media businesses, as well as the highly invested YouTube community, who quite rightly believe that they helped to make YouTube a success."

The website's parent company is currently fighting a $1 billion lawsuit over infringement alleged by broadcast giant Viacom.

Dr Burgess, who is the co-author of the world's first academic book about the video-sharing website YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture, said YouTube continued to have an astounding cultural impact which was largely due to the chaotic and mostly unfiltered nature of the website.

"YouTube didn't really tell us what its website was for," she said.

"Instead, the community found its own uses for it - from bedroom dance routines and cat videos to film parodies and a huge amount of archival TV footage."

Burgess's research also found that people regularly used the site to share copyrighted clips and quotes from television, whether to mark natural disasters like earthquakes and bushfires, to comment on major news events like Barack Obama's campaign for the US presidency or to save "golden moments" in popular culture or sport.

"Using YouTube like a media scrapbook might seem reasonable to us as audiences, but it might just as easily look like 'piracy' to traditional media companies like Viacom," she said.

Dr Burgess said constant pressure on YouTube to police led the website to introduce automatic detection and removal measures, resulting in a large number of the most popular YouTube videos disappearing from the site, including many of the wildly popular "Hitler's Downfall" parodies.

"The larger and more complex YouTube becomes, the more difficult it will become to contain and manage all these competing uses and expectations within one platform," she said.

"The danger is that we will lose the messy mix of amateur, remixed and popular media content which has made YouTube the rich and vibrant but largely unregulated site it is today."

has reported it now receives two billion views a day and more than 24 hours worth of footage uploaded every minute.

Explore further: Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

YouTube Limits Cookie Tracking on White House Website

Jan 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- With the launch of President Obama's White House website, three days ago, there has been extensive use of YouTube videos on the site. As we all know Google now owns YouTube and tracks every vi ...

YouTube doubles video file size to 2G

Jul 01, 2009

Video-sharing site YouTube announced on Wednesday that it was doubling the size limit for uploads to its website to allow users to post more high-definition (HD) video.

Recommended for you

Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

1 hour ago

UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies.

Sony saga blends foreign intrigue, star wattage

1 hour ago

The hackers who hit Sony Pictures Entertainment days before Thanksgiving crippled the network, stole gigabytes of data and spilled into public view unreleased films and reams of private and sometimes embarrassing ...

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.