YouTube sees user rebellion
Recent changes in the website are turning longtime fans against the video service. Plus: French abandon attack on iTunes.
SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - Hypergrowth comes with hyper-growing pains -- just ask YouTube. The online video-sharing site is facing a rebellion among the formerly faithful. Yesterday, blogger and longtime YouTuber Miel Vanopstal lost his cool in a post titled "Screw YouTube." Vanopstal complains that YouTube's recent upgrades have made the site significantly slower, and that new efforts to enforce copyright and delete otherwise questionable material strike him as arbitrary. He is particularly galled that a single alert notice from a "puritanically minded" fellow user can result in a video being deleted. "I've had it with these random rejections," he writes.
Vanopstal is hardly alone. A bitter Nathan Weinberg at InsideGoogle says that he was kicked off YouTube two months ago. Weinberg chronicles his dissatisfaction with the free (and reportedly money-losing) service, ultimately deciding that he has only one thing left to do: "Ruin YouTube" by systematically reporting all of the site's traffic-generating but copyright-violating videos. Microsoft's (Research) Don Dodge, who formerly worked at Napster (Research), adds a been there, done that post to the fray, noting sagely: "User-generated content is very difficult to manage and control."
French abandon attack on iTunes
A draft of a French law that would have opened up iTunes to other music players besides Apple's iPod has been rewritten in committee. The result is a victory for Apple (Research): The law won't have to reveal the technical details of the digital-rights management system used to prevent copying of iTunes music downloads. French consumer groups are up in arms, with a protest planned near the Bastille on Sunday. With 22 percent of French youth unemployed, they apparently have plenty of time to protest.
Protesters to be slimed
Fortunately for the French police, investors at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, have come up with a very timely invention. New Scientist's Invention blog reports that the researchers have come up with a high-powered slime-thrower for use by law enforcement to control unruly crowds. "When fired," writes Invention, "it causes rioters to simply slip over." On Digg, the comments are colorful:"This sounds like the basis for a really fun party," writes one user, while a more serious and libertarian soul argues that "all non-lethal crowd control weapons should be outlawed for government use. Tasers too. They just give the government more and more ways to ... abuse the people." See you at Place de la Bastille, buddy. A more practical reader simply wonders "Has anyone thought about what happens after a crowd gets slimed? Exactly how are the police going to walk up and arrest the rioters?" Good question.
Domain names in demand
In yet another sign of the Internet boomlet, domain name speculation -- an archetypal late '90s business -- is once again hot. The Alarm:Clock venture-capital blog reports today that a new domain-name investment vehicle, Demand Media, has purchased eNom, a company with 6.4 million registered domains. The purchase price wasn't disclosed, but Demand Media, run by former MySpace chairman Richard Rosenblatt , has raised $120 million for the eNom buy and similar domain-name investments. Alarm:Clock calls the deal "damn practical." As Paul Sloan recently wrote in Business 2.0, far from frothy and speculative, the business of domain squatting has quietly become reliably profitable: "In fact, plenty of domainers, as they call themselves, are having the last laugh."To send a letter to the editor about this story, click here.