Should YouTube users be allowed to rip the content they like to their hard drive, much like a person would use a DVR to record a television show of interest? Some users believe they should have such capabilities, and so, they’ve started a petition essentially asking for DVR rights when using YouTube.
The petition comes on the heels of the announcement that Google is going after the video-to-mp3 conversion site with the obvious title, YouTube-MP3.com, something that’s reflected in the petition’s introduction:
For decades people were allowed to take a private copy of a public broadcast. You could record the radio program with a cassette recorder or make a copy of your favorite movie by using a video recorder. All these techniques have been opposed heavily in its early years by the big media companies who didn’t want the public to have such technology. They did describe such technology as criminal and as a threat to their business.
Several years later history is about to repeat: Google has teamed up with the RIAA to make the same claims against all sorts of online recording tools for their 21th century broadcasting service: YouTube (“Broadcast yourself”). Google is taking action against nearly every service that enables its users to create a private copy of a public YouTube broadcast while the RIAA is threatening news media like CNet for promoting such a software.
I hereby ask Google to break their silence and participate in an open and fair discussion with the intention to find a solution that suits the needs of the users.
It should be noted that while consumers could tape music from the radio or make duplicates of other tapes with a dual-cassette setup, it wasn’t necessarily smiled upon by the powers that were. In fact, the MPAA went all out against the technology that was videocassette recorders (VCRs). The difference being, media consumption in the 80s was very much a one-way process, with the consumer having little recourse regarding feedback. Sure, an occasional letter might have made capitalism work in your favor, but there certainly weren’t multiple avenues of communication like those offered by Facebook and Twitter.
With that in mind, should users be able to make copies of YouTube content, be it in the form of third part video recording software or through sites that rip the video’s soundtrack out, converting it to an MP3? While the comparison between DVRs and Internet broadcasts are based in logic, it’s impossible to see the current powers that be siding with the user here, especially when you consider the massive fuss these content providers have made about YouTube in the past. Perhaps a balance could be struck allowing users who upload their own self-created content to give their viewers the option of downloading the file.
Other than that, it’s hard to see a day that the RIAA says “sure, you can download any of the music you like from YouTube’s VEVO service, unless the song was purchased by the viewer first. As pointed out by GigaOm, the petition has over 180,000 signatures since it was put up three days prior. While the support is admirable, it’s hard to see this working out in their favor.