Youtube Cashes in on Rampant Piracy

Posted by bkloss | YouTube | Monday 26 January 2009 1:54 am

Googlezon unite!!

Rumors of a Google – Amazon mp3 partnership surfaced mid last year (Googlezon! ).  Apparently, the relationship was cemented because Youtube now serves its visitors offers to buy Amazon mp3s related to the content they are viewing.  Let me be clear, you should read ‘related to the content’ in the previous sentence to mean the exact same content you are viewing.  To put it bluntly, YouTube is making a pitch for you to buy the song you’re listening to, the song that someone illegally uploaded.

For example:

Amazon youtube affiliate relationship in action

Problem?  If Youtube is smart enough to know what Mp3 to recommend for a pirated piece of its content, it should ALSO be smart enough to flag the content for removal.  So, in this case, YouTube’s business model is in direct conflict with its privacy policy. The best situation to recommend a song for purchase would be when someone is viewing the pirated video for that song.

Here’s what the Tube has to say…

What Will Happen If You Upload Infringing Content

Anytime YouTube becomes aware that a video or any part of a video on our site infringes the copyrights of a third party, we will take it down from the site. We are required to do so by law. If you believe that a video on the site infringes your copyright, send us a copyright notice and we will take it down. If you believe that we have removed a video that you uploaded in error and that you are the copyright owner or have permission, you can file a counter notice and let us know. Accounts determined to be repeat infringers may be subject to termination. Users with suspended or terminated accounts are prohibited from creating new accounts or accessing YouTube’s community features.

In the interest of comedy, let’s step back for a second and consider the sales pitch here.

Tube:  Hi I’m YouTube, do you like the song you’re listening to for free?  Well, now you can buy it.

User:  Ahhh… I’m OK thanks, I’d prefer to keep enjoying it for free.  I mean come on YouTube, if I really wanted it, I’d just download it from you :)

There is certainly the appeal to quality.  Quite a bit of YouTube’s copyrighted content is not at the quality level of a purchased product.  Still, are those people willing to listen to a pirated video unwilling to download a high quality mp3 from a file sharing site?

I applaud YouTube for putting forth this innovative monetization strategy.  Yet, the irony of the approach is not lost on the Iteration Station.


  1. Comment by Filipe Pinto — January 27, 2009 @ 8:00 pm

    Not too long ago people recorded songs from the radio.

    That worked just fine because people would eventually buy records because the radio wouldn’t play all the songs, and people wanted to know more about the artists.

    The internet transformed this balance. All songs are now available online, and information about the artists available, give little incentive for people to go buy an album…

    Lets face it… listening a slighter lower quality version of a specific music while i work out at the gym, doesn’t make me lose any sleep.

    The music industry needs to evolve from mass distribution, to mass distribution with massive customization. The industry will have to have deliver unique versions of a specific music, which will now be the incentive to buy songs from distributors (like Amazon).

    Imagine a special Amazon portal site that would allow buyers to customize a specific song, changing lyrics (by suggestion of a computer), change accords, or any other characteristics.

    Nike is doing it with it’s tennis shoes. Toyota has always done it with its cars (in Japan).

    Google is taking advantage of the inefficiency of the music industry. Can you blame them?

    BTW, when the rest of the world eventually learns how to use technology, Google will make less money, which will mean less free perks for us… what’s worst for you?

  2. Comment by bkloss — February 10, 2009 @ 6:22 am

    Insightful as always Filipe!

    You are really keying into the Googlzon reference.

    In terms of Google making less money, last time I checked Youtube has yet to pull it’s weight for the price tag. I think anything that gets them more eyeballs will results in more advertising dollars.

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