Henry Jenkins on YouTube vs. The RIAA

MIT Professor Henry Jenkins recently started his own blog, “Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins”—recommended reading, especially because of Jenkins’ interesting views on the often badly functioning “participatory culture + copyright” tandem. In two recent blog posts, he comments on the rumor that the RIAA is considering cracking down on YouTube amateur lip synching and karaoke videos. Some noteworthy bits from Jenkins’ first post:

The various media industries are struggling to figure out how to manage this service, which clearly yields them benefits in terms of increased audience awareness and interest in their content. […]

However, some companies still choose to have content removed from YouTube. Jenkins:

[…] It’s hard to imagine anything more bone-headed than to shut down grassroots efforts to sell your own products — whatever else you think about the intellectual property issues in circulating actual program segments.

[…] Taking advantage of YouTube as a source of viral marketing means letting go some of the control that the networks believe they have over what happens to their content: for some of the broadcasters, this loss of control has been hard to accept […].

About the RIAA’s (assumed) reasoning behind a possible YouTube crackdown:

The RIAA is acting on the assumption that these amateur performances may be depreciating the value of their intellectual property. […]

I think it’s safe to add here that the RIAA hopes that by cracking down on YouTube content, the service becomes slightly less interesting, thereby giving back some trend-setting and taste-making power to the labels represented by the RIAA (which is what it’s all about).

Jenkins again:

[However, fans’] emotional investments in the songs yield potential dividends for the rights holders. Media industries usually benefit when their content becomes a living part of our culture — if nothing else, it extends the shelf life.

Then, a quote from a follow-up blog entry responding to a post by Randy Picker about some legal aspects surroundig the RIAA vs. YouTube controverse:

[…] I am pretty sure […] that Picker is correct that the RIAA is almost certainly well within its legal rights to take action to shut down this use of its music via YouTube.

That said, I feel that we should be paying closer attention to that “persistent gap between actual law and the public’s knowledge of that law and frequently, perceptions of fairness.” […]

Here’s some more about that “persistent gap”:

It’s not sufficient to simply tell us “this is the law.” We need to work together to try to change the law into something that makes sense in relation to this emerging and expanding participatory culture.

I couldn’t agree more. But if you’re subscribing to this blog, you already knew that ;-)

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  1. […] Copy this blog links to a recent Mainichi article that is a fine addition to my previous entry: “YouTube” Web site has Japan’s broadcasters in a tizzy. […]

    » chosaq » Japanese content industry against YouTube on July 5th, 2006 at 17:37