When it comes to getting Google to take action in an area it’s uncomfortable,there are usually only two options: hit them in the courts, or hit them in the wallet.
The former has worked for privacy advocates in Europe, but it looks like the latter that will force Google to fight against piracy on YouTube. And the video hub’s own new subscription music service could be the the catalyst.
After years of pushing back against its responsibilities to curb piracy as it makes billions from the content it serves up, YouTube’s parent company Google is switching up its business model somewhat. As the article above explains, an Android-focused blog has revealed that YouTube’s expected $9.99/month subscription service is close to launch and aiming to take advantage of the site’s position as the number one search destination for music listeners.
With unique content archives at its fingertips and an enormous user base plugged into its own advertising channels, Google is in a better position than most to launch yet another streaming service into . As many articles have postulated, if even a small fraction of it hundred of millions of active users choose to subscribe, the company stands to gain a significant slice of what it moving towards being a multi-billion dollar market place.
All of which makes it suddenly susceptible to a problem that plagues every paid content platform: piracy.
Just as Netflix, Hulu, or even Amazon would hate to see software like Popcorn Time gain traction and become a legitimate consumer consideration as an alternative to their services, Google won’t want to see potential subscribers drawn away to sites, or even YouTube channels, that don’t officially license and pay for the content they use. The move turns the heat up on the company to better police their own online back alleys, especially if the same content that it wants YouTube’s music subscibers to pay for becomes easily available for free on the same platform.
We flagged four ways that YouTube enables piracy earlier this year and very little has changed. The onslaught of DMCA takedown notices continues to see the search giant spin its wheels, as pirate sites race off into the distance with quick workarounds and millions in profit. Under the old model it’s not really in Google’s interest to go all enforcing copyright law, as the process is resource-intensive and YouTube’s numbers actually benefit from increased user activity, video spins, and the associated advertising dollars that those stats attract. Flip that illegal music content into a direct competitor and potential drain on subscriptions, however, and you have a revitalized reason to
Though it’s sad that it takes a hit to the bottom line to kick a company like Google into gear on copyright protection, especially when it has such deep and advanced resources to apply in the fight for creator rights, any addition to the ranks of legitimate content providers will is welcome. For all its lack of ingenuity in bringing down illegal sources, Google and YouTube have proved to be incredibly adept at providing outstanding access to content across the world.
By putting its weight behind a pay-for-access channel, a brand this large and well-known further strengthens the message that we should pay for quality content and, against its track record, lines Google and YouTube up alongside creators in the desire to cut off providers that don’t share that same ethical streak.