"YouTube: The Double-Edged Sword" is a short essay written in the fall of 2007 for the Computer Systems for Video class at Ferris State University. It was written by the Dozerfleet founder as a commentary on YouTube, on how its ability to open up the world to media history, but poses a copyright risk to companies. The article, mostly intact from what it was when originally written in 2007, is embedded below.

Article itselfEdit

The Double-Edged Sword

I would have to say that, as a whole, the phenomenon known as YouTube is, for all practical purposes, a double-edged sword. Now, you may ask, how do I mean to say that? Well, let’s get started with the explanations, now, shall we?

The good of YouTube is the democratization of the site. With a fairly loose and reasonable policy regarding uploads and copyright, very creative (and not-so) minds alike get a common forum to show off their videos to the world, expressing themselves and drawing interest (hopefully) from those who might be looking for someone who has some creative input to share.

Add to that, the site also accepts numerous formats for video and converts them from numerous codecs. Gone are the days when you had to worry about whether or not your QuickTime file was made with an Avid! All MOV’s transfer, as do most AVI’s, WMV’s, and most anything else!

Some of the users on YouTube post purely original content, and quite brilliantly. Others, like MrDereckJohnson, have a knack for taking recycled footage from existing movies and recutting it brilliantly to create mock trailers that look so valid; you could swear that a studio had done it on purpose![1] Others have created music videos using everything from recycled Naruto cartoons to Sims 2-generated video content. One of the most popular Sims 2-based music videos is for the song “Beautiful Liar” featuring Beyonce and Shakira, by C1N1st3R (read: “sinister”).[2]

YouTube has also become a powerhouse center for the collection and display of “memes,” web phenomena that have spread quickly through viral marketing. Some of these are quite well done, others are rather an embarrassment. Included in this category are My Way Entertainment’s The Juggernaut, Bitch! parody of X-Men[3], several fan videos for Snakes on a Plane[4], the Dramatic Prairie Dog [5], All Your Base[6], the LOL Cats[7], the ORLY Owl[8], and the “This is Sparta!!!” rant extracted from the famous scene from the movie 300.[9]

However, breathe a sigh and wait for "The Imperial March" to start playing: there’s a dark side to YouTube! The sight is also known for outright theft of complete copyright-protected works. This has led to division in Hollywood on the value of YouTube. It has been said that “the marketing crowd loves it; the legal crowd hates it.”[10] It is also a place where numerous poor-quality videos have been uploaded by users. The site has a tendency to downgrade significantly on processing the quality of videos uploaded to it; not as badly as Google Video, but still significant. An example can be seen in the increase in video artifacts present in the Trapezoid Kids Opening Title Sequence with Sims Music demo, which also brightened up the footage and washed out values of the scene with Cornert dancing.[11]

Some of the videos are objectively pathetic and some are exceptionally well done, leading to confusion over what kind of reputation YouTube deserves. Oftentimes, the videos tend to reflect modestly well-done writing, such as in the That’s My Ninja movie, but with poor special effects.[12] Other videos are poorly written but feature amazing special effects given their low budget[13] and lack of originality.

Does this site prove its worth? That may depend on who you are. If you have no real vested interest in the site, it will allow you to waste hours on amusement in a way that you never could with a TV broadcast setup, even with cable or satellite. You can watch what you want when, and have no commercial breaks but without paying extra money. If you’re a fledgling entertainer looking for a way to promote yourself or another entertainer, then the ability to embed videos from the site to other sites such as MySpace can be a life-saver.

From personal experience, I used to have to ask song creators for permission to take their songs and do recuts of them as soundtrack music for Sims webcomic credits pages. Now, I can just take their music videos on YouTube and place them where I want, merely giving credit to the artist and letting their own work speak for itself. And if I want just music, then Project Playlist handles that, offering MP3 services similar to YouTube’s video ones.

Therefore, I feel that the debate over the exact value of YouTube will continue. Is it a really wonderful source of democratized broadcast, or a bottomless pit of a sham of marketing? Perhaps, for now, the answer may lie, as cliché as it sounds, in the eye of the beholder.


See alsoEdit

  FerrisGoldFlame Ferris State and Dozerfleet: Paper Assignments