Andrew Keen’s opinion column “Copyrights take a back seat to profits on the Web” is worth a read.


Even in the digital world, standards are still necessary and some old rules deserve respect. Creators should still be fairly compensated for their work, and we shouldn’t tolerate stealing as the road to profit.

And, as much as we love YouTube, we shouldn’t countenance the way its founders muscled their way to riches by enabling the online trafficking of stolen videos.

From garage entrepreneurs to mega-millionaires sounds like the quintessential American success story, except that e-mails released recently by a federal judge plainly show that YouTube’s magic elixir was theft, not creativity.

Consider the “business strategy” discussions in which the YouTube co-founders, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, concede that drew the original traffic to their website largely through offering stolen property which, they well knew, radically inflated the value of their site before they flipped it to Google for $1.65 billion.

As Chen wrote in one e-mail: “if you remove the potential copyright infringements “… site traffic and virality will drop to maybe 20 percent of what it is.”

… I’ve poured my heart into my written work, as have most other professional creative artists, and we expect to be paid a fair price for our honest labor.

As my Arts & Labs colleague Mark McKinnon put it: “It’s not free culture; it’s freeloader culture. When you become a millionaire by stealing other people’s work and get treated like a hero, it tells me that the Internet ecosystem is getting out of whack.”

“… we shouldn’t tolerate stealing as the road to profit”

Amen and amen.

Read the full column at the San Jose Mercury News

(Andrew Keen’s blog is good too.)