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It's All Chaos As Universal Music Sues Video Web Sites


By: Spacelab Research Staff
YouTube might have gained the golden ticket when it was bought by Google, but other web sites that feature user-generated video content are quaking in their boots over a fresh set of lawsuits. The latest in this onslaught are both Grouper and Bolt, which have been sued by Universal Music.

Universal is suing for $150,000 per copyrighted work, the same price tag that they used in suing people over the use of P2P file-sharing programs. It brings to light that the major labels have been sitting back and waiting to strike at the right time over the rush of video content. At the end of the day, they own it, and want to control how or where it's being used.

"Grouper and Bolt ... cannot reasonably expect to build their business on the backs of our content and the hard work of our artists and songwriters without permission and without compensating the content creators," a Universal spokesman said when speaking to Reuters.

YouTube comes out as a clear winner in this chaos, being so big that the labels don't want to ignore the kind of promotion that YouTube can give them. But when Google bought YouTube, all groups wisely came to an agreement that lets YouTube keep the flow of copyrighted stuff on the site, one of the things that's obviously responsible for its popularity.

Big labels like Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group will all get paid for the use of their videos through the much talked about "ownership" agreement they have with YouTube. Details are super sketchy on this right now, but it seems that the labels may now own a piece of the YouTube pie. What kind of pie it is and how big the slices are is unknown. And somehow, this still keeps the lawsuit option on the table for them.

Another possibility is that individual uploaders will be held responsible for what they uploaded. This seems very likely as it's exactly what happened in the P2P fallout earlier this year. KaZaA settled with copyright owners and let their users hang out to dry with vulnerability as they could be sued by the labels for the music they made available for sharing.

Which brings us back to Grouper and Bolt. They need a sugar daddy, or an "agreement" of their own. What makes this even more complicated is that Sony Pictures Entertainment bought Grouper in August, which probably gives Universal an even bigger reason to sue their rival... hardball reality in the harball jungle of the big media world.

Quick math made easy: Universal claims that there are 100,000 violations, and they want $150,000 for each, so thats $15,000,000,000 or a major bargaining chip to have a sit down with. If one of the groups who own the copyrights decide to make an example out of someone, it could make a huge impact on the way that video is being used as a free for all. This story ain't over yet.



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