Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but ever since Google announced their purchase of YouTube it seems that copyright owners are coming out of the woodwork, forcing YouTube to remove content. Mark Glaser is a good example of one YouTube user who isn’t too happy about the situation. He makes some excellent points about how YouTube has been a great platform for Stephen Colbert, but at the end of the day, if Comedy Central doesn’t enforce their ownership rights it only makes it harder to enforce them in the future.
I’ve said all along that I disagree with Mark Cuban and I think YouTube can be a sustainable business. But, part of achieving sustained success is working with the content owners, not against them. Heck, even if YouTube disappears tomorrow Google can sleep comfortably, knowing (a) they prevented a competitor from making the purchase and (b) it only cost them some pocket change.
Comedy Central (and other) content will undoubtedly disappear for a bit from YouTube. Look for it to reappear with advertisements rolled in. That’s all the content owners really want, a piece of a revenue pie. They can’t be too greedy though; as I’ve also noted before, the online revenue base is going to be much, much smaller than the one they’re used to capturing via cable. Those who opt for greed will disappear from YouTube and never come back. Good luck to those folks as they try to build their own traffic; better to have a small slice of something than to have 100% of nothing.
Timing is critical as well. YouTube can ill afford to lose all the copyrighted content that’s driving so much traffic to their site. It will be interesting to see how quickly YouTube can integrate a pre-roll, post-roll, AdSense or some other advertising model. It will also be fascinating to see how YouTube users react to something more obtrusive than the banner advertising currently in place.