Everybody knows what YouTube is, right? It’s where you watch those crazy cat videos (or in my case dog videos), video replays of awesome sports clips, or videos of an artist you like. But this past week, I learned a few things about YouTube that I never knew or even thought about.
While I was exploring areas of YouTube whose links they keep tucked away at the bottom of the page, I discovered:
- CitizenTube — YouTube’s News & Politics blog. I’m not sure this would be the best place to stay up on current events since the last post here is from May 2012. There has been a bit of political news since then, right?
- TestTube — YouTube’s Idea Incubator where they try out new ideas before deciding whether to make them a standard feature on the site.
- YouTube Official Blog — (self-explanatory, I hope!) where I found this interesting blog about what YouTube is doing to support teachers’ use of the tool. The gem in this post is the link to download the YouTube EDU Playbook Guide which addresses several topics we discussed in class about how to use YouTube for educational purposes including using interactive video, creating playlists, and understanding neuroplasticity. No, wait… that was a topic that came up in my meditation class. But the video about that was included on the Big Think section of YouTube, which I did discover listed in the YouTube EDU Playbook under Lifelong Learning.
So, there’s no question that there is a LOT of content on YouTube, a fair amount of which you can use for educational purposes. If all this information is out there for the taking, who really owns the content? Enter Margaret Gould Stewart, former head of user experience at YouTube (now head of product design for Facebook). She gave a Ted Talk (one of her “bucket list” items) in 2010 about what she calls “the digital rights ecosystem” and specifically the Content ID system at YouTube.
As an original content owner, you can register your material with YouTube in their Content ID system. As the owner of the rights, you can also determine what policy you want YouTube to apply if and when someone tries to upload the same content. Surprisingly, or maybe not, Stewart says most rights owners allow copies to be uploaded because they “then benefit through the exposure, advertising, and linked sales.” The example Stewart gives of why an artist, for example, might be okay with his work being used by someone else is the video of the wedding party making their entrance to Chris Brown’s song “Forever,” which had come and gone from the charts 18 months before the wedding. Not only did this “little wedding video” get over 40 million views, but Chris Brown’s old song went back up to #4 on the iTunes chart.
You can search for copycat videos and spoofs of the wedding party entrance, and even NBC “borrowed” the idea from the video for an episode of “The Office.” (I was going to link to a video of that, but that WAS copyright protected.) NBC’s high-profile takeoff on the amateur wedding video proves Stewart’s point about digital rights being an ecosystem because “it’s not just amateurs borrowing from big studios, but sometimes big studios borrowing back.”
Stewart’s advice to content owners is simple. “If you have content that others are uploading to YouTube, you should register it in the Content ID system, and then you’ll have the choice about how your content is used.” She goes on to say that by allowing your work to be reused, you’re opening it up to all sorts of new possibilities, including new audiences and new distribution channels. And isn’t that what distributed learning is all about?