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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Best Overview Article on Friction Between YouTube and Hollywood

It's by Ben Fritz and Michael Learmonth, in Variety. Even if you've followed the saga, you'll discover something new (like that a paid placement on YouTube's homepage costs about $80K a day.)

Here's the opening:

    Hollywood veterans are used to the ground shifting quickly, but the case of YouTube is rather extreme.

    Just one year ago, studios and networks were bragging that the once-scrappy video Web site was handy for branding, by helping mint hit shows or injecting movies into the youth consciousness.

    "To make this kind of promotion work, you have to be able to lose control of the media," VH1 programming chief Michael Hirschorn told Variety then. "We got millions of impressions with those clips" of the network's "Flavor of Love."

    The love affair abruptly ended last month, when Hirschorn's bosses at Viacom demanded that YouTube take down every one of its roughly 100,000 clips.

    "We cannot continue to let them profit from our programming," CEO Philippe Dauman said, after the two companies failed to seal a content distribution and revenue sharing deal.

    Every conglom has been affected in one way or another. Soon after "Ghost Rider" bowed, Sony found virtually the entire film on YouTube, chopped into segments of various lengths. The studio demanded their removal, but was unsure if another webbie would simply post them later. It's a scenario that every other studio has experienced.

    The battles over the future of content online now represents arguably the most rancorous and disruptive issue to confront Hollywood in decades. Merely mention the words "viral video" to any player in Hollywood and you will get an earful. At stake, they say, are hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars being digitally picked from their pockets.

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