Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Here Comes Mark Cuban!

You knew that Mark Cuban would come out swinging on this one.

In a piece entitled You Go Viacom! the Blog Maverick ripped into "Gootube" (one of his favorite current targets) for being complacent and basically setting itself up for the massive $1 billion lawsuit that it's now looking at from heavy hitter media company Viacom.

Cuban uses the example of HBO programs to explain the case from the standpoint of television content providers, noting that the reported $2.2 million fee per episode that A&E paid to syndicate The Sopranos would be far devalued in a world where the hit show was easily available via YouTube.

Cuban ends on an ominous note, writing, "Google may not know it, but they have already lost," on the notion that entertainment companies are if nothing else superior in bending copyright laws to their needs.

While my opinion is just one more blogospheric whim in a sea of speculation, my hunch is that Viacom is looking to cut an advantageous deal here, and the $1 billion number is simply bluster and a means to gain leverage. This is not the age of Napster, the music industry in particular is in mortal danger, and entertainment companies will not be able to use the legal route forever as a last stand against the Internet wave.

3 comments:

Sprague said...

Eric,

I think you underestimate the impact of this. Viacom OWNS Google. They win no matter the terms of the final settlement. Content is king -- as Google acknowledges implicitly by spending so much to buy a business built on illegal content.

The significance of this, yet to be fully processed by the digiterati, is the end of the Web 2.0 froth. Online distribution (whether uploaded by users, or supplied legally through licensed channels) is brought within the constraints of regular business.

Thank god.

Eric Berlin said...

With Google's power and money and reach, I don't think anyone owns them, which is why this story is so interesting. And there are a lot of potential ramifications from this case (and from the "YouTube" phenomenon of a video sharing site with huge audience) that no one can really predict as yet. Thanks for the comment as always sprague!

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