aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, September 30, 2006
YouTube’s no Napster
Mark said YouTube will be "sued into oblivion", and isn’t worth anything. He is wrong, but it does make for a lively conference speech, and good headlines. I was a VP at Napster when we were being sued by the record labels, so I know a little about copyright infringement. YouTube has "significant non-infringing use" which is a proven legal defense against copyright lawsuits. The Sony BetaMax case was won on the basis that video recorders were used for many other legal purposes that demonstrated significant non-infringing use. Sony could not be held liable for the misdeeds of some of its users. It is the responsibility of the copyright owner to identify infringing material and take action to protect it.
I’m not so confident as Don about that “proven legal defense.” Part of me fears that the Grokster decision was just a rest stop for the court on the road to overturning the Betamax decision. But I am profoundly optimistic that one way or another the copyright cartel that has only taken on its potency in recent decades cannot be sustained. These guys or their successor corporations are going to see that it is in their economic interest to do it differently.
I thought Cuban would be among the first; instead it looks to me like he can’t see the forest for the trees:
What is it about youtube.com that has made it so successful so quickly? Is it the amazing quality of user generated content ? Is it a broadband fueled obsession with watching short videos?
No & No.
I don’t know what percentage of YouTube content is user generated, but to dismiss it so blithely is to miss something big. Downloading a song from Napster was never you and me sharing the way YouTube is just exactly that. MySpace gets all the credit but email and embedding is the kind sharing that everyone wants and the reason for YouTube’s meteoric rise. If the court - or some corporate deal - shuts that down, those users will be very angry.
Just like with the VCR they fought so viciously (anyone remember Jack Valenti’s “the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."), they’ll make money from users using that copyrighted content in their remixes.
Cuban sees the Warner deal as Bertelsman and Napster and says it’s too complex and their are too many parties involved. I like to think it might work. I’ve been dreaming of micro-payments since, well, since I signed up for AdSense.
Google had no business model and was unprofitable for how long? Theirs became the model that revolutionized web advertising. Me, I want YouTube’s - whatever it may turn out to be - to be the next revolution. I’m guessing the time is right and Cuban is wrong.
P.S. - Mark has nothing against YouTube.
On the closet
There but for the grace of God go I. I came out at 18, in 1973. I got lucky. And now I have a happy healthy committed relationship. The kind of relationship that would not have been possible from behind a closet door. Had I not come out, God only knows how that proclivity might have been made manifest.
I sincerely believe that the closet is a dangerous and unhealthy place - for the individual and for all of us - and perpetuating it in any way is damaging to society.
Today Andrew Sullivan writes:
Maybe we should feel anger at these people. I don’t. I feel sadness. Sadness at the compromises they made and the misery they fueled for themselves… We are all human, and my own life has its own share of emotional and sexual mistakes. Equally, the news about Mark Foley has a kind of grim inevitability to it. I don’t know Foley, although, like any other gay man in D.C., I was told he was gay, closeted, afraid and therefore also screwed up. What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal. There are many still-closeted gay men in D.C., many of them working for a Republican party that has sadly deeply hostile to gay dignity. How they live with themselves I do not fully understand. But I have learned you cannot judge someone’s soul from outside. That I leave to them and their God, and some I count as good friends and good people.
What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I’ve read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty. While gays were fighting for thir basic equality, Foley voted for the “Defense of Marriage Act”. If his resignation means the end of the closet for him, and if there is no more to this than we now know, then it may even be for the good. Better to find integrity and lose a Congressional seat than never live with integrity at all.
If we know the “the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds,” the “lies it requires” and that it “corrupts,” how is it that we can stand by “good friends and good people” and do nothing?
If I have an alcoholic friend I will try to do something. I may fail, but I will try. The analogy isn’t perfect, and their are degrees of friendship (especially in Washington), but if I had a friend in the closet I would try. If I failed, I expect that friend and I would drift apart.
I live in a place far different from Washington but just as deeply closeted. I may yet be tested.
Facebook is open
Sitting with a group of faculty and staff colleagues, we all agree with danah:
*Major* le sigh. I do not believe that social network sites are able to sustain lots of conflicting social contexts. Or, rather, i don’t believe that they can continue as a hang-out space. I know that Facebook will continue to grow but i believe that the core value of it will be lost for the sake of growth. MySpace is already struggling to cope with what happens when teens and parents/authorities are in the same place. At least most professors have had the curtesy to keep distance. Unfortunately, this opening will not simply allow college students without .edus and high schools students to join. It will also open the doors for every adult who is obsessed with youth - parents, authorities, pedophiles, commercial enterprises…