Google paid $1.65B yesterday for YouTube. I’ve been thinking about it a bunch since then; starting to get stronger feelings about it.
First, I think that YouTube cashed out by flagrantly ignoring the rights of copyright holders, of the people who own the content that gets spread around. They used safe harbor laws to play within the letter of the law, but it was clear in a number of ways that they were never really doing much more than paying lip service. In my view, it’s wrong to build a business that does that, and cashing out is pretty undeserved. (Although, I will say that they executed like crazy. That’s a testament to them. A year and a half ago there were at least 50 “flickrs for video”. But they won.)
Second, I’m glad that video is becoming more viable on the web. It’s changed the way that I think about the web in the last year for sure. VideoEgg has let us put up lots fo videos of Sam which have really made a difference with his relationship with his grandparents & friends. iChat AV does the same thing. And the Democracy Player from Participatory Culture Foundation is a brilliant piece of work towards making video distribution truly more attainable by everyone.
Lastly, I’m pretty surprised Google made this purchase. I know their stock value makes stuff like this relatively inexpensive for them, but, truly, they haven’t been hammering away at Google Video for that long now. To cede the victory to YouTube after just a bit of time in the saddle doesn’t imply, to me, much faith in their ability to execute in this non-search market.
Anyway, I can’t get the development here out of my head for some reason — it’s really got me noodling. Can’t tell you why, exactly, except that it bothers me a bit.