Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Counting the Lost

As of this writing, the videos I have linked for a couple of previous articles have been removed from the YouTube archives. Those videos happen to be the ones by Chemistry and the Counting Crows from my Seven Songs series, both regretful losses. In addition to that, I'm encountering problems with the Five for Fighting video, and it's probably only a matter of time before the others drop off the radar entirely.

The removals are most likely due to YouTube's recent enforcement of copyright policy, which dictates that copyrighted or trademarked material in its original form cannot be uploaded for use or display on their site. YouTube has presumably tightened their scrutiny in the face of pressure from international media agencies.

As a devout follower of copyright proceedings, I suppose that I'll have to agree with these moves. All artists, after all, maintain the rights to their respective creations. While the vast majority of the music videos in YouTube did contain appropriate references to their originators (thus negating any obvious attempts at thievery), it's the artists who have the final say as to whether or not their efforts should be made available in such a manner.

In support of such a move, I'll apologize over the use of potentially copyright-infringing material on this site. But I'll also say that, in an age where some or all of those videos are not normally available to the public, it was nice being able to freely listen to them, even for a little while.

This, of course, leaves us with a bit of a problem. YouTube has been an excellent source with regards to music videos -- especially with the older ones, all of whom see limited play time on the local music networks, if they receive any at all. I think of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal, for example, as one of the best videos ever made... how can I possibly demonstrate it to people without direct access to a media clip? It's not as though MTV's likely to show it nowadays, particularly considering MJ's current media-inspired "reputation".

But copyright is copyright, I suppose. And the last thing that YouTube wants to stir up is another Napster-oriented controversy. It's probably going to fall to self-conscious introspection again, I think: There are, of course, a number of great works out there; It's just a matter of whether or not we're willing to let them out.

In a way, that's not much different from writing to begin with. Or art. Or music.

Right now, I'm thankful that YouTube has a lovely system in place for people who have the lost videos embedded on their sites. You still have the video screenshot, of course, but playing it now gets you a message saying that the clip is no longer available. It's a nice nod to their audience, and it'll have layout artists sleeping better at night.

All the same, though, I'd rather somehow have the videos -- under legitimate circumstances, of course. Maintaining favorites kind of assumes that you'll want access to them for a long, long while. But of course, I'm perfectly willing to settle for even the briefest glimpse.

Thanks, YouTube.

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