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Jon Stewart just had YouTube permanently close my account

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And a very Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Mr. Stewart.

I got notice this morning that Comedy Central had YouTube remove a video we put up of a segment the Daily Show had done on the Mark Foley scandal. In a strictly legal sense, I get the concern. In a business sense, and a PR sense, it's obnoxious and counterproductive. In any case, I went to log in to my YouTube account to delete any other Comedy Central videos I had, and what do you know, I get a notice that my account has been permanently closed.

Again, this isn't about the law - Google and YouTube may - and I say "may" - have a valid legal argument about anyone posting videos that are longer than, say, 30 seconds. But Google and YouTube need to think about the service they are and the service they will be after they institute this new draconian clamp-down.

First, does it really hurt Comedy Central when people repost snippets of their show? I don't watch less Jon Stewart because I can catch some of the segments on YouTube. I watch more Jon Stewart as a result. YouTube, and the blogs, have been major supporters of Jon Stewart, and I find it hard to believe that that support hasn't helped him and his show - you can't believe how many Jon Stewart fans I met in France this past summer - and just as importantly, I find it hard to believe that we haven't helped get his political message out to the masses (and as much as Stewart likes to say his show is only about comedy, it's clearly not, otherwise he wouldn't be interviewing Nobel Laureates and doing segments on books about Iran).

Again, I get the strictly legal argument, but I think it's rude, and just as importantly, a bad business move. And having my account closed is beyond obnoxious. It not only calls into question Comedy Central's appreciation of what the blogs and the larger liberal audience has done for their network, but it also calls into question just what Google is doing to YouTube.

We already know that Google is slowly but surely destroying Blogger (it worked fine until they got their hands on it). And now we have Google acquiring YouTube, and what happens? Some of the large sites using YouTube lose their accounts.

Well, two can play that game. There's lots and lots and lots of content on YouTube that violates copyright. The Taser video at UCLA that we all posted, the owner was not happy that it was on YouTube. I guess YouTube should have removed that video, and then no one would have known about the incident. And all the other recent policy brutality incidents in LA. All copyright violations. Sure, people are getting attacked, sure the posting of those videos on YouTube made a huge difference not just on the issue, but it also got YouTube huge publicity. What matters is that Google has now taken over YouTube and suddenly it's just wrong for YouTube to be exactly what YouTube is.

Maybe someone ought to start a campaign to find all the highly-trafficked, copyright violation, videos on YouTube and demand they be pulled and the accounts be closed. I can't imagine a quicker way for Google to destroy that service than to close the sites sending the most traffic, and to close down the most popular videos. Two can play this game.

And actually, just a quick look at YouTube's video home page, where the most popular videos are highlighted, shows lots of videos that appear of questionable copyright - and YouTube is giving them top-billing. How odd? For example:

- #2 ranked video of a Japanese soccer game from TV.
- #5 video of the American Music Awards.
- #8 video of ABC's THE VIEW
- #9 video of the American Music Awards.
- #11 video of a soccer game from TV
- #12 soccer game from TV
- #13 from Good Morning America
- #15 soccer game from TV
- #20 video from ABC

That means that nearly half of the videos YouTube is showcasing on its Video home page are of questionable legality. If that extrapolates to YouTube as a whole, that would mean 50% of the service is illegal. Wouldn't that be an interesting research project for someone to partake in. After all, it's so very important that we obey the law while on YouTube. And actually, maybe we all can provide YouTube and Google a clearly much-needed service by regularly checking their video home page, and other videos, to make sure they're not copies of something from TV or the broadway stage.


Something even more interesting - CBS is now a regular publisher on YouTube under username "CBS." Yes, you see where this is heading. YouTube used to be about you and me. Now it appears that YouTube may be turning into one big corporate publisher. And I strongly suspect that this is Google's plan. Call it "corporate bait-and-switch." Google buys YouTube. Google has millions of regular readers and publishers to YouTube who are loyal to the service because they think it represents the regular guy. Google quietly switches YouTube's main content - at least half of it - to corporate-published content like what CBS is now doing. Google hopes its users don't notice the shift and keep watching the videos, making Google and the companies involved lots of money. But in the end, YouTube, which started off as an experiment in citizen publishing, ends up as one big corporate community simply out to make a buck. That is of course their right, but I'm curious how many YouTube regulars are going to be happy when, and if, they find out that YouTube has sold out.

Google is destroying YouTube, just like they're destroying Blogger.

Thanks again, Jon Stewart and all the folks at Google and YouTube. You have a really Happy Thanksgiving too.
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