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YouTube's Appeal Undeniable

18 Apr, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange

Despite all of my protestations against the evils of copyright infringement on Google-owned YouTube, I have a confession to make: My 9-year-old daughter loves the site. She routinely watches clips of her favorite show, “Naruto,” on YouTube in various forms.

She's seen some episodes, but she particularly likes the video set to music created by YouTube users. I must confess the appeal of it escapes me, but to my daughter — who rearranges her life to watch broadcasts of the show and covets the trading cards — this stuff is catnip.

Studios seeking to cultivate the true fan are likely willing to put up with a little tinkering with their product to virally advertise it.

During last week's Latino DVD conference, I moderated a panel on video-on-demand in the market. During the discussion, panelist Paul A. Campbell, president and COO of QD3, which has Latino and hip-hop music videos, said his company offers clips stripped of the audio to fans so that they can create their own audio track. His company willingly offers partial copyrighted material to stir fan interest in its copyrighted content.

Lost in the controversy over outright copyright infringement by user-generated video sites is this gray area of user-generated video utilizing parts of copyrighted material. Heck, “The Colbert Report” has encouraged it with various contests.

Drawing the line between using parts of copyrighted materials to create something and outright copyright infringement on such sites will be hard. Studios have given so much away — including clips, trailers, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with stars — in an effort to promote content, that the line between what's legal and illegal may be blurry to many consumers.

Many of my panelists noted that the younger generation has a different idea of what the entertainment-distribution channel should look like. As children, we were trained to view movies in theaters or later on home video, television shows at the appointed time on the appointed channel and music on CD or radio. The younger set doesn't accept that paradigm.

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