Copyright and the Internet: A Personal Example

I don’t normally watch SNL. Occasionally, Sadie and I will flip it on randomly and watch a skit, but I can’t tell you the last time I watched all (or even most) of an episode. I follow @davidsiegel (a software developer) on Twitter, and he tweeted a link to a YouTube video of a recent SNL musical performance by a group I’d never heard of called Fleet Foxes. I liked the song (Mykonos) so much that I had to hear more by them. I checked out Sadie’s cousin Chris’ blog, Flickin’ Spit, for a review, and he listed the newest Fleet Foxes album as one of the Top 50 Albums of 2008. So, I decided to buy the album from Amazon MP3. I went back to the video a few days later to find that it had been removed from YouTube per NBC’s request due to a violation of their copyright.

Without that video, I wouldn’t even know who Fleet Foxes were. I liked their performance so much that I bought one of their albums. You would think this is the point of NBC inviting them onto the show. But now I can’t share the same performance with others so that they might also buy the album. The performance is not available on Hulu or the NBC website. Whose copyright is NBC protecting here? Is it “for the artists’ own good” that the clip has been removed? Obviously not. Who exactly was it hurting to have that clip on YouTube? The answer is exactly no one. This is a perfect example of good advertisement, both for SNL picking a good artist and the artists themselves, squandered by malicious use of copyright power. Gimme a friggin’ break NBC. The online world would be a better place if companies started to see the importance of adopting a pragmatic approach to copyright enforcement.

EDIT: For those wanting to hear the song, you can hear the album version on YouTube.

8 thoughts on “Copyright and the Internet: A Personal Example

  1. Hey man, i totally agree. I felt the same way with Napster too when it was big. I would download a few songs of a band and if i liked it, i would end up buying the CD. The problem is a lot of people didn’t do that then and they won’t do it now when there’s an easily accessible version of the song they like on youtube. AND it also doesn’t take up any hard drive space. So that’s the problem right there. While we’re in a small minority, many people like to take advantage of it. That’s why napster had to go and that’s why youtube has to filter out videos like that.

    It sucks that it’s like that, but that’s the world we live in unfortunately.

    • Sorry, but I have to disagree with you here. First, I don’t doubt that there are a few people who would rather just listen to a song on YouTube rather than pay for it, but the lack of (easy and legal) portability in YouTube videos means that you need to get the actual mp3 from somewhere, whether it’s downloading it (legally or illegally) or purchasing an actual cd and ripping it yourself.

      The problem is that the music industry is failing, but they don’t want to admit it. They need to learn to think like a dandelion in the Internet age and they’re not.

      But that’s not really my point here. My point is that Fleet Foxes didn’t issue that take-down notice. NBC and SNL did. There are currently videos and audio of Fleet Foxes performances and album music on YouTube. My point is, if NBC is not going to offer copies of the musical performances on either Hulu or nbc.com, why the hell would they not allow a copy of the performance to remain on YouTube? Maybe they don’t want to ask for permission from any musical guests to display the performances, but if that’s the case then it’s a shame, both for them and the performers.

      The issue I’m trying to exemplify here is that the “industry” acts like they know what’s best for recording artists, when they definitely do not.

      • I can agree with that. The industry definitely is failing because distribution is no longer an issue. People can get their music out really easily with or without a label.

        But you’re right, the industry does think it knows best for the RIAA which is wrong.

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