Who said that YouTube is turning into the new TV? These days, it's actually looking more and more like the new silver screen.
Thanks to a recent report that ran in The Wall Street Journal, the previously unaware portion of the world's YouTube viewing population is now fantastically privy to the fact that movies—full length, Hollywood-produced films—are available for free on YouTube. Not Hulu, not Netflix. YouTube. And some people are even making making money off of these things.
For example, this full-length airing of 2004's Hotel Rwanda ran a 15-second GoTo Meeting advertisement before it shifted into (Don) Cheadle mode. And this somewhat high-quality stream of 1999's Arnold Schwarzenegger–starring End of Days opened up with a GoDaddy ad that unfortunately didn't star Danica Patrick.
It's pretty wild—and entirely free. Some of these movies—like the Lord of the Rings prequel Born of Hope—have been viewed more than 18 million times. There are lengthy playlists and Reddit subreddits dedicated to the stuff. Remember Air Bud? Or that Rob Schneider film The Hot Chick? Do you get my point yet? No wonder Blockbuster shut down.
The question that The Wall Street Journal poses is, how don't these channels get shut down, as well? It was in 2007 that YouTube created its Content ID system—that (albeit massively flawed) checks-and-balances system that allows publishers and publishing houses alike to claim what's rightfully theirs and shut down what's not—for this exact reason, but many of Hollywood's most major studios aren't using it.
In fact, it took until a series of Thursday inquiries from WSJ for Disney to go forward and shut down a series of films that came out of its jolly, golly studio—Pinóquio included. Elsewhere, studios like Sony, MGM, and Warner Bros. declined to offer their takes on why they haven't bothered to block the films through Content ID.
A YouTube spokeswoman washed the site's hands of the situation, telling WSJ that YouTube's governing body, Google, "invested heavily in copyright and content management tools to give rights holders control of their content on YouTube" and that more than 4,000 media companies use Content ID.
The site that it is protected from liability under the Digital Copyright Millennium Act, that oft-criticized copyright law that governs how copyright holders get their content taken down from others' sites.
Should the aforementioned studios eventually decide to do something about their films' presence on YouTube, they'll likely have success in getting each one taken down. But it's likely they'll run into roadblocks should they try to take issue with YouTube. The site is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that oft-criticized copyright law that governs how copyright holders get their content taken down from others' sites.
Buuuut that's not important right now. Come on, Hook's on in 15 minutes, and Robin Williams isn't going to laugh at his own jokes himself!
Photo via Captain Hook/Facebook
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