TechCrunch reports that the rumored sale of YouTube to Google is complete - in an all stock deal worth 1.65 Million. While many people, like Mark Cuban, wonder whether YouTube is worth such a price, you have to believe that Google spent millions in legal fees just contemplating whether this deal would land them in court and - if so - whether they could win any lawsuits. When Google announced the Google Book Project, the Author's Guild and others were quick to sue. My old friend from Atlanta, Joe Beck, is defending that case, and I'm willing to bet he'll win - he won for the Wind Done Gone, and in some ways that may have been more difficult. I'm sure that many a distributor will sue Google - its what you do when you are dying and scared - but I don't think Google scares easily.
It may be too much to dream, but I hope that the content industries start to wake up and realize that everyone will benefit from some changes to the rights-control-regime. Some money is better than no money, and could possibly be mo' money. I don't believe that advertising alone can support all video, we've seen how that works with TV - not everything gets supported, so there are definite tiers. But we also learned that people will pay for good content (HBO), and we've even seen that people will pay for what they can get for free with video (through sales of TV shows). While YouTube will probably always have illegally posted material, it also shows a demand - for content that's hard to find, for content made outside the system, etc. I bet Google could figure out a variation of the ideas proposed by Terry Fisher in Promises to Keep. Perhaps some combination of free, taxes or license fees for certain copyrights and fee-based video.
More thoughts on this soon, but this will be one of the more interesting business developments for film/video in years. Maybe this will get me posting more often than the once a month average I've had this summer.