“We do enforce this policy.”

I run a very small, very casual video games channel on YouTube called The Blundercast – I just record, edit, and post silly little moments that happen while I play games. It’s very much a labour of love, but I do happen to monetize a few videos just for a bit of coffee money here and there.

Most recently, I posted a video where I played Scribblenauts Unlimited and had fun on a mission.

I did attempt to monetize this video but was abruptly stopped by YouTube.

We may consider your video(s) for further review provided you verify that you are authorized to commercially use all of the elements of your content. This includes all video, images, music, video game footage, and any other audio or visual elements.

Fair enough, I’ve run into this before. I explained:

This video is a video where I have fun with a small portion of the Scribblenauts Unlimited game. It was created solely for the purposes of entertainment and education and is all done in fair use.

Makes sense to me, you learn about the game and you can enjoy watching me make an ass of myself on the internet. However, it got rebuffed with a request for information regarding formal permission and/or terms that would allow me to post the video.

I reached out to WB Games, the publisher of Scribblenauts Unlimited, to get this permission, and got this response in a few hours:

WB Games Support:
WB does not provide formal permission to post videos on YouTube or similar sites. Generally we don’t mind fan videos so long as you’re using legal copies of the game, are not being posted to make a profit (through advertising or other means), and are in good taste.

Hmm… not being posted to make a profit? What about the hundreds of videos that do just that on YouTube? Do they all have a standing agreement with WB Games that allows them to post and profit off their videos? Or are they in danger of having WB enforce their policies on them?

So I asked to clarify, especially with regards to YouTube partners, and got this response:

WB Support:
WB does not give out any formal permission. We also do enforce this policy.

And now we’re back at square one.

I understand you want to protect your game, but we’re giving you free marketing at no cost. I’m not entirely sure why you would be against that?

It is a silly place.

YouTube: Copyright Hero?

Margaret Gould Stewart, the head of user experience over at YouTube explains the Content ID system over at YouTube, and mentions that the minute you upload some copyrighted material, the rights holders get to determine what happens to your video.

Once again, not a huge fan of copyright protection being too far and overreaching, but you really do have to realize that YouTube is making small and incremental changes to copyright protection. The story from the video is a great example: the wedding video that uses Chris Brown’s Forever brought the song back to number 4 on the iTunes charts, having been long dead before that. Had Sony, the rights holder to Chris Brown’s Forever, simply blocked the video from appearing, that song would have stayed off of the charts.

Keep in mind, years ago, these RIAA companies would simply have blocked the content and prevent anyone from enjoying the video. Now, you have companies thinking about all of the possibilities that can come from that one video. As Stewart said:

By simply blocking all reuse, you’ll miss out on new art forms, new audiences, new distribution channels and new revenue streams.

Now, the real task is to get them to move from only allowing popular videos to benefit from this sort of leniency, and to all videos that simply want to share the song – you want more people to listen to your artists, don’t you?

Mobile Data – An Arm and a Leg?

I’m a customer of Rogers Wireless and I have always been deprived of a mobile data plan, and there’s a good reason for it! I found this article while Googling for data plans in Canada. Sure, it was written in April 9th, 2007, so things have had to change since then right?

Well, here’s what Rogers is currently offering in terms of data plans, with a breakdown of cost per megabyte:

$15     2MB        $7.50/MB
$25     500MB    $0.05/MB
$30     1GB        $0.03/MB
$60     3GB        $0.02/MB

Seems pretty reasonable right? Well, 6.9 million iPhones were sold in Q42008 globally, and the iPhone is a rather data-intensive device. It’s advertised to play streaming videos with ease, play games, and keep you connected.

But streaming videos can be one of the greatest consumers of bandwidth – just ask YouTube. So I decided to test it out – just how much data would YouTube consume? To do this test, I measured the amount of data used in one minute (1:00) of a YouTube video. Here are the raw results:

Start       End        Difference
418.40    424.00    5.60
428.00    433.80    5.80
440.20    446.20    6.00
447.10    453.20    6.10
454.20    460.20    6.00
461.40    469.60    8.20
469.60    479.10    9.50
480.70    484.50    3.80
485.50    491.50    6.00
493.30    499.30    6.00

The most left hand column represents the total amount of bandwidth transferred to my computer (Apple Macbook), which started at 418.40, so I merely recorded the difference. The middle column represents the total amount of bandwidth transferred to my computer after a minute of a YouTube video playing. The last column is the difference of the first two columns, giving you the amount of data used up within one minute.

I eliminated the two outliers and came up with an average of 6.21MB/min. Sounds like a big number, eh? Well, here’s what that means for you:

  • On a 500MB/month data plan ($25) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 80 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. Even sooner if you use your data elsewhere. ($0.31/min)
  • On a 1GB/month data plan ($30) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 160 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. ($0.19/min)
  • On a 3GB/month data plan ($60) – you will run out of bandwidth after approximately 483 minutes of just watching YouTube videos. ($0.12/min)

Doesn’t this seem expensive for you? We’re in an age where data should be at our fingertips, without restrictions, 24 hours a day, 7 days aweek. Yet here in Canada, Rogers has the ability to place bandwidth caps on the Internet, remove features that compete with their services from mobile phones, and create very expensive data plans.

Are we going to continue paying an arm and a leg in order to receive a mediocre service? Digg this.