Eye on YouTube
Peter's on holiday this week. We sent him to an isolated cottage in south-west France with his family. He has no internet access and we confiscated his mobile phone.
So in his absence I thought I'd write a few thoughts this week. I'm probably way behind the internet curve, but I only recently discovered the joys of YouTube...
Here at the BBC we're obliged to take copyright issues extremely seriously. Producers are constantly in fear of broadcasting uncleared pictures, or discovering, as we did the other day, that five seconds of archive was to cost us over £1000 (you can imagine how that went down with Peter when he found out). Well, on Wednesday morning I came in to find an email from the agent of rock photographer Mick Rock - he'd spotted an uncleared picture we'd used in Robin Denselow's obituary of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett.
Mick was extremely gracious and only charged us a small fee. However it got me thinking - how does YouTube get away with it? Newsnight's Syd Barrett film is on YouTube for anyone to find - and for anyone to judge whether Mick's photo was worth paying for (I'd argue it was). So, who put our film up there? Has Mick seen it and if so, who has paid him his small fee for the use of his picture? So far 1,125 people have viewed the film via YouTube, admittedly a small number, but none the less, surely copyright is copyright?
On Tuesday the producer of the item, Rebecca, had great difficulty in finding clearable pictures of Syd that she could use. In fact the film came close to not being broadcast - at 11pm they were still looking for shots of the rock recluse. But had Rebecca looked on YouTube and searched for Syd she would have founds reams of footage - everything from homemade tributes to a stalker movie someone made discreetly following Syd around Cambridge.
Now how much of this material is infringing copyright? And what would have happened if we'd just taken it and reused it on Newsnight? I guess I would have received a load of emails asking for money. So why is there one rule for us and another for YouTube? Perhaps someone could explain.
In fact if you search for Newsnight on YouTube you'll find a whole range of our films and discussions. Currently, over 20,000 people have watched Kirsty's interview with Pete Doherty - a smaller number (71) have watched Peter Marshall's expose of British corruption in Saudi contracts - or as described on YouTube: "An exclusive and gutsy report from the beebs flagship news programme." As more and more people get their TV over the web, these questions are bound to become more important.
Mick's agent is about to get very busy.
Daniel Pearl is deputy editor of Newsnight