WTF! YouTube

Just read this information posted on techcrunch today and then read my rant below. Oh, ya, don’t forget to digg the crap out of this

Huh? YouTube Sends TechCrunch A Cease & Desist

Buried in my email this evening I found a cease and desist letter from an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, representing their client YouTube. We’ve been accused of a number of things: violating YouTube’s Terms of Use, of “tortious interference of a business relationship, and in fact, many business relationships,” of committing an “unfair business practice,” and “false advertising.” The attorney goes on to demand that we cease and desist in from engaging in these various actions or face legal remedies.

Well, crap.

The offense we committed was creating a small tool that lets people download YouTube videos to their hard drives. We referenced the tool in a recent post that walked people through the process of moving YouTube Videos to their iPod.

We created the tool only after a careful review of YouTube’s Terms of Use, which state “If you download or print a copy of the Content for personal use, you must retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained therein.” The letter, however, states “The YouTube’s Terms of Use also allows users to access videos only through the functionality of the YouTube website via streaming on the Web, and it disallows the functionality of downloading videos.” Not only am I unable to find that language in YouTube’s Terms of Use, it directly conflicts with the language I did find and quoted above.

Similar tools are available all over the Internet and have been for some time – see Oyoom, iTube, PodTube, this Firefox extension, step-by-step instructions on an O’Reilly website, and many more.

Cease and Desist letters are often sent with no intention of follow up legal action, even if they are ignored. They are simply a way to show that you have made a good faith effort to protect your legal rights. But in this case I’m perplexed – YouTube takes the position that everything uploaded to the site is licensed for use by viewers, and so there should be no legal rights to protect:

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.

Given that downloads, with proper copyright attribution, are permitted under the Terms of Use, it seems like there is no problem at all for a user to download a video for personal use and put it on his or her iPod.

I’ve sent the letter to my attorney for review, but I am likely to remove the tool to preserve my relationship with the company. Based on my review of the Terms of Use and the great number of similar services already on the Internet, I honestly believed we were doing nothing to offend YouTube or Google. And I’ve loved YouTube since the first day I discovered it.

Of course, the irony of YouTube accusing others of copyright infringement is delicious. But I won’t go into that right now.

A copy of the letter is below. I had not listened to the voicemails mentioned in the letter, but I went and checked the last 20 messages and there were indeed two from this attorney.

WTF!?! Youtube? I’m boycotting YouTube.Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system… First, I want to commend the folks at techcrunch for doing their homework. It’s great to see a blow hard lawyer spew forth his venom only to be shot down by someone who knows what he’s doing. Congrats guys.

Now, let’s talk about the $1.2 billion that Google just spent on Youtube. Why would Google pay so much for this company? Youtube is easily replicable. After all, Google has Google Video, which offers many of the same features. Well, the reason Google coughed up the $1.2 billion is simple: Youtube is one of the top ranked websites in terms of daily unique visitors. Like websites like myspace, Youtube members visit the site several times a day. People love the website. It’s a great community. Community is the reason Google spent $1.2 billion on Youtube.

If enough people shift to another community, the $1.2 billion
Google spent will be put at risk. If you are disappointed with Youtube’s stance, make sure you let your opinion be known by not using Youtube and by digging this story like crazy.

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  1. ken

    YouNube getting into the sue-happy times like everyone else.. Sigh.

  2. I save youtube videos with

  3. JohnXY

    I’m gonna try this one for sure.
    I have had great results also with

  4. HenryZB

    wow nice method .
    I have had great results also with

  5. if it happen to you that you want to save and play video from on your local pc, try this link

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