Monday, November 19

Is there any potential for youtube high definition?

For those of you who don't know a few weeks back, one of the leading hosting services for video creators offered a high definition hosting service. Last week Youtube announced their own intentions to do so. Note, no youtube service yet exists.

This brings up a very valid point.

What use is their in HDTV for youtube?

Youtube has in effect created a service that fundamentally gives creators neither freedom, nor security.

Censorship of content is completely at random and widespread on the service as is copyright infringement to the point it's entirely impossible to track where the infringement ends and the censorship begins.

Authors have had whole histories of 100's of video deleted on a whim. These and all comments and discussion on them are gone from history has if they never existed. Youtube takes no responsibility for safeguarding creators works and simultaneously takes no responsibility for protecting copyright owners.

Worst of all youtube fundamentally requires ownership of all materials posted to it. Requiring users to give up all liberty / freedom of their content. This means there shall be no profiting and no innovation on youtube except by that by which youtube deems fit. Furthermore there should be no illusion as to whether any potential profit shall be taken by the users or youtube given youtube's sale for $1.6 billion to google and given creators have signed away all right to such profits on any materials posted.

This sort of lopsided structured agreement (if you can call it an agreement at all) is not a conducive environment for creators of valued content.

One must therefore question whether their is any chance for youtube's service to become anything more than the simple experimental playground it is. One must question whether it has any potential to grow up into a content provider that offers anything more then at best fair use clips, viral video clips, experimental clips from home users and other such elements of so called "clip culture" or at worst copyright infringing materials.

Personally I see no future for youtube as a host for any content worthy of HD. It's not a host for artists, not a host for videographers, not a host acceptable for film shorts, not for documentaries, not for sitcoms, fundamentally not acceptable given it's censorship for forms of news, societal critique, critical dissent nor any other form of valued content.

In short youtube has defined itself as a proprietor of only the most base form of video and has no capacity or potential for greater value to either the general public or the traditional media companies whom are pulling out of it in droves. Youtube has defined itself as such, and is now stuck in a rut. It is no longer the nimble young company it is and no longer has the capability to redefine itself as a worthy proprietor of content.

On the flip side (disclaimer: my hobby of the last 2.5 years) has tracked to date almost 30,000 video feeds coming from over 15,000 different hosts. These vary from Vimeo, to, to over 350 similar professional video hosting services. However the vast majority of these 15,000 hosts are independent creators.

This content represents the true vitality and future of the video space. These creators and OWNERS of their content represent the true scope of humanity. They vary from hobbiest and home recorders to professional artists, videographers, hollywood types, even the largest traditional media companies. They represent from simple video snapshots as one would shoot and record photos, to the entire CBS news, feature length movies in the public domain, to critical political dissent, to the politicians themselves.

This is a diversity that is not reflected in youtube and which can fundamentally only occur where the creators retain their ownership, and with that ownership both their freedom and security of their speach.

This is fundamentally important because this space is not simply about entertainment or any of the more traditional forms of media, it is above all about communications. Not mass communications, as in communicating to the masses, but mass communications, as in video henceforth will be another means for the masses to communicate with each other, like email or the telephone but infinitely more powerful.

The following is what Jakob Lodwick had to say on the same issue. Hopefully he will not mind my putting it forth in it's entirety. It is not a subject that I feel can be made sound bytes or pull quotes of.

A lot of people are asking me what I think about YouTube’s vague HD aspirations. My response is the same as to any other YouTube product announcement.

YouTube is an illicit organization built upon a self-destructive philosophy. This is not an academic point: all businesses depend on their philosophy. Whether that philosophy is determined though conscious design, or whether it accumulates randomly over the months, is the choice of the businesses’ leaders.

YouTube acts upon the premise that the creator does not have a right to his own creation. Claiming safe harbor under the DMCA is the cop-out of the decade. If they valued digital property rights, they would proactively delete stolen content.

Today, the quality of YouTube vids is so abysmal that it’s not an alternative to the iTunes Store or television. But releasing HD will bring YouTube one step closer to the legal decision that either cripples them or shuts them down entirely. It will only hasten the fury of the creators, both corporations and individuals, who hate seeing their hard work ripped off so that other corporations have a place to advertise. Both those groups have tremendous power: the corporations because they have billions of dollars, and the individuals because they’re creating the videos that are being watched in the first place and can easily post them elsewhere.

YouTube still has the opportunity to adopt a legitimate philosophy. They could adopt a policy of protecting the rights of the people who make videos. But do you really expect it from Steve Chen, who has uploaded two videos in the past 10 months, or Chad Hurley, who has zero videos? If you are a creator, these guys do not give a fuck about you, neither as a person nor as a demographic. They do not understand your values nor why you are valuable; why do you think this will change?

PS: I imagine they feel deeply guilty, consciously or subconsciously, about their current evil policies, and this explains their goofy non-profit “cause” efforts. If these guys truly want to “make a difference”, how about doing the right thing in the first place? One limp ‘right’ does not reverse the damage of a collosal ‘wrong’.

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