Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris is claiming that YouTube and MySpace owe Universal millions of dollars for copyright infringement. It seems to stem from short music video clips that Universal uploads to AOL and Yahoo for users to download for free. Those portals pay a fee for the videos, but MySpace and YouTube get the same content for free, via user uploads. The companies are currently in negotiations, but a lawsuit has not been ruled out.
Clearly these booming social media sites contain content from all corners of media, including television programming, movie clips and music. MySpace seems to be catching on to the issues surrounding all of this free content by recently announcing they will start selling music. NBC recently ventured into the business by announcing NBBC, where entire television shows will be broadcast online. This was partly in response to the hugely popular Saturday Night Live skit "Lazy Sunday" that NBC feels YouTube made a killing from.
It's should be very interesting to see where this goes. Will the major networks, movie and music studios follow NBC's example? Will users of YouTube and MySpace jump ship to these new sites? Two things are for certain: First, social media sites are here to stay and the big boys are threatened. Second, the quality of video from the major network and studios' sites will be far better - and more enjoyable - than the grainy, jumpy videos served up at YouTube and MySpace.