All the big blogs (and Ambrose!) are wading in on the breaking news that Google’s out to buy YouTube for around $1.6bn. It’s quite a lot of money for what, in effect, is other people’s content and other people’s technology.
It does of course have mindshare, which when your product is somewhat lagging behind, as is Google’s, it’s perhaps simpler to just buy the traffic.
There’s lots of talk that the main copyright owners are merely waiting for it to be acquired before they pounce. After all what’s the point of taking legal action against someone with no cash, much better to take on a new, rich, sugar-daddy. However, I believe that this is somewhat under-estimating the big G.
It would make much more sense for Google to have pre-negotiated the rights to the majority of the copyrighted material that YouTube’s subscribers like uploading. This is likely to cost them, what is known as the trade, as a shitload of cash. Luckily they’ve got quite a lot in the bank. But they’ve also got a decent-sized ad network and have been trialling video ads from certain content providers – the very people who’s permission that might be handy to have. They’ve also got some relationships with certain production houses to sell material that already appears on video.google.com.
I imagine that as soon as the announcement is made (if indeed it is) we’ll see some rights-related announcements accompany it.