Lost in the GooTube shuffle last week was some even bigger news for the scores of YouTube users who already enjoyed lip syncing (and hip shaking) to their favorite songs and posting home videos to the site. Deals worked out with Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner Music suggest that fans will be able to freely remix and share popular sound recordings from those major record labels' catalogs. When a remix video gets viewed, YouTube will share a cut of the advertising revenue with the rights holder.
It's a simple concept with potentially profound implications. Artists get paid, while fans can keep on sharing remixed tunes on the site and push the boundaries of user generated media even further. No fans or innovators get sued in the process.
That raises an important question: why can't P2P users get a similar deal? EFF has long advocated that the music industry blanket license P2P users to let them keep sharing in a way that gets artists paid. The labels could help Internet users get legal by cutting a deal with an intermediary, whether a P2P company, an ISP, or a collective licensing society like ASCAP.
Cyberscholar Michael Geist points this up in an insightful article:
"During the height of Napster, experts estimated that even a five-dollar monthly fee would have generated billions in additional revenue for the content industries, yet those companies chose instead to sue the P2P services along with thousands of their users. The YouTube deal may foreshadow a reversal, with the industry at long last ready to embrace the remarkable commercial potential of the Internet."