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.