Anatomy of a Molehill

Or how you just can’t win for losing in the Web 2.0 arena.

In an era when user generated content is the soylent green for all that stuff people on the payroll used to generate, the quickest way to success is to become part of the interconnectivity infrastructure. Digg has done it. Technorati is in the process of doing it in spite of rolling indexouts that rival waves in their persistence.

YouTube has done it by becoming the central depository for online video.

And then someone tried to tried to decipher some language from its newly revised Terms and Conditions:

“[B]y submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service. The foregoing license granted by you terminates once you remove or delete a User Submission from the YouTube Website.”

molehillIt’s not so much the legal implications that are the problem. Read carefully, I don’t find these terms to be so onerous- the license terminates if you remove the video. And since the whole purpose is for YouTube to serve video to blogs and websites everywhere, it shouldn’t be criticized for asking for a license to do so. If you think I’m drinking the YouTube kool-aid, just read the sentence before the language that has been the focus of so many blog posts today:

“For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions (Emphasis theirs).

The problem is that too many Web 2.0 users want it all three ways. They want stuff to be free, they want these companies to be treated like real businesses, and they freak out when they act like real businesses.

Let’s not forget that YouTube is free. Trying to make money off of user generated content is the Web 2.0 mantra.

As Valleywag helpfully points out, the termination provision makes it impossible for YouTube to sell DVDs with your content on them. About the most it could do is create some sort of premium service that gives users additional features for a fee.

In sum, this is the biggest much ado about nothing since Y2K.