Apple, Inc. and EMI Group announced Monday that, in a landmark business move, EMI, one of the four biggest record labels in the world, would be putting its records out for sale on iTunes and other (inferior, if you ask me) music providers, sans copy restrictions.

Yes, you read that right, dear readers, reading this page here. No copy restrictions, with the only drawback being that EMI’s records will cost 30 cents more. For those of you who don’t know specifically what this means, well, read a newspaper (or sound it out – it’s pretty straightforward).

This comes at the same time that media giant and filthy money-grubbing corporate whore Viacom announced their billion dollar-plus lawsuit against Google because its newly adopted child, YouTube (the only thing not adopted by Angelina Jolie in the past year), has copyright issues that don’t go away. For those who don’t remember, Google bought up YouTube so there would be less competition for itself and so that no one, including filthy money-grubbing whore Rupert Murdoch, would buy it up instead.

Before continuing, let’s think about this business deal first. You pay $2 billion for control over an amateur-video Web site. You are well aware at the time that companies are having issues with the Web site. Your own Web site, meanwhile, is under attack from publishing companies for copyright infringement issues. This means in all likelihood, in our “damn-I-spilled-coffee-on-my-lap-and-now-I-can’t-have-children-so-I’m-going-to-sue-McDonald’s” world that there will be many lawsuits lying in the wings.

Now you’re going to be out, altogether, around at least $2.5 billion dollars in legal fees, publicity fees, etc., all on a deal you made with the full intention of it making money. For Google’s sake, that means YouTube needs to generate roughly $2.5 billion in revenue to break even. Congratulations, nerds at Google. You should have taken an economics – hell, you should have taken a first grade math class.

But while I understand Google’s position, Viacom’s position and YouTube’s position (one that involves lying naked in pools of money), I’m still trying to understand the customer position. That’s right. Us. As in you. As in YouTube (hey, I finally got that! Clever!). Why do people even post copyrighted material on YouTube?

Think: Can you download this material off YouTube? No. You can only watch it. Can you watch it on the owner’s Web site? Most likely. So why post it at all?

Now I know you’re saying to yourself, “Gee, Ross, you sound like you don’t want us to watch ‘The Colbert Report’ and ‘The Daily Show.’ Do you hate me? Because I think you do. And you’re ugly.”

First, I want nothing more than for everyone to watch “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show.” I reference Stephen Colbert at least once in every article.

Second, I don’t hate you. You’re a wonderful person. You’re beautiful. I learned that from a James Blunt song.

Third, I’m beautiful. I learned that from a Christina Aguilera song.

Indeed, I am all for You. Which is why the constant posting of copyrighted material to YouTube is so poor in taste. Because it’s not by You. It’s by Them. The Not You, if you will. YouTube was meant to be an answer to corporate television. It was meant to be television for us, by us.

The haven where we could watch a German kid beat the crap out his computer while playing Unreal Tournament online. The utopia for the Mentos ad that teaches us about Judeo-Muslim relations and the perils of standing in the middle of the road. The Elysian Fields where we can traverse the path to Candy Mountain with help from a magical Liopleurodon. The land of utter bliss where we can gather to watch a World of Warcraft character shout “Okay, let’s do this – LEROOOOOOOOOY uh-JENKINS!” and run into a castle full of dragons.

Remember how Time Magazine made You “Person of the Year?” Well, they did.

You. Because they thought You were special, for reasons as simple as the existence of YouTube. That, MySpace, Facebook and all the other Web sites that allow You to get You out to the rest of the world.

It may sound like I’m selling out to corporate power. But rest assured, I am not. I think it’s ridiculous that you have to weave through ads to get to precious comedic gold. But at the same time, I am more worried about what is happening to Us.

Me and You.

By posting copyrighted material, you’re delivering a massive uppercut to the dream that was YouTube. Which just means you’re hitting You. So please, stop hitting yourself.

Brenneman is a member of the class of 2009.



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