Friday, October 06, 2006

Google May Buy YouTube for 1.6 Billion

Some have said "only a moron would buy YouTube." Well, if Google goes ahead and does it, I wouldn't say it's because they're morons. Others -- music, movie and TV production companies among them -- most likely agree with Mark Cuban that YouTube will one day be "sued into oblivion." In fact, in my mind's eye I see those aforementioned others drooling with delight at the prospect of someone with something in their pockets' buying YouTube so they'll finally have someone to sue for copyright infringement.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are obviously aware of these warnings, so what could they be thinking? Yes, YouTube has a massive user base, members of which visit frequently and stick around for a while when they do. Gathering more users to whom ads can be served under the Google umbrella is definitely one reason Google might take the plunge. But a $1.6 BILLION price tag plus being sued into oblivion? Sounds like a big headache -- unless Page and Brin don't believe they'll be sued into oblivion.

Is Google the company with pockets deep enough, enough clout and enough chutzpah to challenge in court the current bastardization of copyright law represented by the digital-rights management practices of major industry content providers? Perhaps they believe it's one's constitutionally protected right to upload a clip of yourself acting goofy for the camera while a Madonna song plays in the background, that what users upload to YouTube actually gives more to the culture than it takes away from the mainstream content industry, and that this potential Pareto superiority should be acknowledged and encouraged in an effort to support cultural creativity.

If Page and Brin go through with this, it would have to be because they believe they'll win and put this issue to bed for now. Otherwise, they could possibly be morons.

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