MyHeavy Vexing Vloggers
Online video is hot. YouTube competitors were “breeding like rabbits” before Google bought YouTube for a bazillion dollars. Of course, in order for these sites to court venture capitalists with a straight face, they’re going to need some “user generated content” to serve as cover for massive copyright infringement.
Enter MyHeavy.com (the “social network” kludge linked to Heavy.com), which modestly claims to have been “built by the coolest, most talented group of new media slackers ever to wield a mouse.” And at first glance, they’re doing pretty well. How did they build a library of thousands of videos so quickly? MyHeavy says it “offers its members features they can’t find anywhere else.” Well, it can’t be “uploading videos and sharing them with your friends” I think that’s been done before. Maybe it’s the “ability to make friends and flirt with hotties”?
Or maybe it’s taking video content from other video sites?
The folks from Galacticast sounded the alarm on the [videoblogging] mailing list: “MyHeavy.com Disregarding Vlogger CC Licenses.” Videobloggers were horrified to see their videos, from the irreverent to the intensely personal, in the MyHeavy library.
Indexing video collections from across the web is hardly anything new. But MyHeavy stomped well over the line. Not only is every video preceded by an obnoxious “preroll” advertisement, but the embedded video player further wraps each video in another obnoxious ad. All those eyeballs, all that revenue, all without the permission or knowledge of the people who created the actual content. And by serving the actual video directly from the independent host, they save money on bandwidth and can claim they’re not republishing or stealing anything.
Vloggers quickly realized that one key source for MyHeavy’s collection was Blip.TV, an excellent online video site that did many things right long before VCs got excited about this stuff. Blip.TV hosts videos for free, even providing the original media file (and not just a blurry, overcompressed streaming Flash version). More importantly, Blip.TV prominently features its support of Creative Commons licensing clear and simple terms that MyHeavy is violating wholesale.
Google Video has also been thoroughly mined.
Blip.TV’s Mike Hudack is on the case, working the phones and contemplating various technical responses as well. If MyHeavy is smart, they’ll pull back quick, and not bite the hands they expect to feed them. TIME magazine’s Person of the Year, after all, can be pretty tempramental.
UPDATE: As of a few minutes ago (7:15 a.m. HST), Hudack reports that MyHeavy has “cleaned their act up.” Indeed, it looks like a massive chunk of their library is simply gone. Of course, they probably only needed a busy looking site for a VC pitch, and can now apologize profusely on their way to the bank.