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October 18, 2006

Universal, TimeWarner Have Their Lawyers Ready

The discussion of the summer, especially when it comes to the distribution of video content, is how to control the flow of pop culture being shared openly and without direct compensation to companies.

First , we heard last month that Universal was threatening to sue both YouTube and MySpace for allowing songs posted on their site that provided feedback.

Now, BoingBoing has covered more information about TimeWarner's potential suing of YouTube over copyright. No surprise that TimeWarner decided to move further ahead with litigation now that Google's money is behind YouTube, making a settlement with them much more lucrative.

This type of lawsuit was already being anticipated, however, although no one knew who would send out the first letter ofcomplaint.

Meanwhile, Universal is moving forward in lawsuits with and regarding what they consider illegal voice anything to me because I am bringing things from home often.

More information about those lawsuits are available in The Los Angeles Times.

I wrote last month about the Universal threats that:

It's a textbook example of corporate logic that defies every bit of the concepts we discuss surrounding grassroots advocacy and viral marketing, and it's frankly pretty mind-boggling how and why companies keep coming up with such strongly prohibitive language.

The company has lawsuits planned, and MySpace may be seeking a deal.

According to Veiga, Universal has "made it a priority to get compensation for content that was once seen as purely promotional." This prohibitionist stance may make sense in the severely short-term, since the idea of losing money on a particular piece of content tends to get people upset.

But angering millions of YouTube and MySpace users may not be the public relations campaign the company is looking for. It's almost as mind-blowing as Diet Coke's reaction to all the publicity surrounding that explosive and fresh Mentos campaign that was popularized through sites like YouTube.

While I'm busy blogging about the social power that grassroots advocacy provides to fans while also giving great financial incentives for the brands themselves, groups like this are proving that they are not interested in promoting their brand and instead giving it a black eye.

It's easy to see why Universal would react this way while simultaneously mind-boggling that no one has been able to convince the company of the error of its ways. In their mind, they are seeing these sites capitalizing off fans, almost as if YouTube or MySpace is a leech that is taking profits by becoming a middle man for the users, but they are missing the power of these sites completely if they don't realize the vast importance of users in this process and that these types of moves will anger those users, who are coincidentally also either their customers or their potential customers.

I'm interested in seeing what will continue to happen in this litigation space as the precise meaning of cross-platform or transmedia or all these other types of related concepts are sorted out and the language in law gets much more precise about exactly what activities they are trying to cover.

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