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Don Dodge on YouTube...and "Linden's Curse"

Most of you know I was a VP at Napster back in 2000 when the RIAA was suing us. I learned a lot about "fair use", DMCA safe harbors, take down notice rules, and the enormous penalties for copyright infringment. These laws are tough and there is no wiggle room.

Forget all the rationalizations about how YouTube really helps promote the content and Google is providing a great service to help users find it. The courts will hear none of it. What matters is the law and the facts...and they don't look good for Google.

Google should have taken my advice and just done an exclusive advertising deal with YouTube. Google is all about advertising. They didn't need to acquire YouTube to accomplish their advertising objective.
    -- Don Dodge, "I told you so"

I actually went through this movie myself at AOL Music. My team was running Netscape Search when my boss said Steve Case didn't think search was interesting and if I wanted a career at Netscape I should lead this "Tiger Team" to deliver a subscription music service for AOL by xmas 2000. This was in June or something so there were only 6 months to build everything. My first question was "What about the rights to the music?" I was told, "Don't worry about the rights. We'll get the rights. Just build it."

So we built it, but it never shipped. No rights. We even built 2.0. It was great. It went out to an AOL user beta audience, but it never shipped either. We couldn't even get the rights to Warner's catalog, which post-AOLTW merger was part of our own company. I went to New York and LA as part of big negotiating teams and got to meet with music executives. Ron Grant lead one of these teams, he was great, really impressive. But we never got the rights.

Alongside this internal corporate drama I'm reading in the press about Napster getting nuked from space, how it's so bad that the Hummer-Winblad VCs who touched it are going to be personally sued. Ye gods. Rich's take-away: music biz sucks! No fun there.

Don's words ring true.

See also what I'm going to start referring to as "Linden's Curse": YouTube is not Googly

Comments (1)

They might be personally sued but their VC firm would have an interest in protecting them and even hiring their lawyers and paying for the settlement.

The VCs wouldn't want a chilling effect ...


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