Because Mike has too many answers and not enough questions.

Pirillo Getting Zango Spam Out of Google Index

Posted by Mike Bijon August 26, 2007

I agree with Chris Pirillo’s post about how Zango is hijacking free video content. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much recourse available to him directly now that his own content is served/semi-owned by YouTube, but his position as an A-list blogger and the attention he’s getting (front page of Digg now) are likely to cut into Zango’s position in Google results and revenues very soon.

If I were authoring any video content, especially if it had just a fraction of Chris’ popularity, it would be frustrating to see it free on the internet and making money for so many other sites. In particular, it would really smell things up to see a site, like Zango, whose general business practices I disagree with using “my” content. The problem starts with YouTube and the license granted to it when you submit content. By submitting videos to YouTube, Chris gets free bandwidth and views from their traffic base and he also grants YouTube many rights to the content and loses the ability to apply usage terms of his own to the content.

I see two content-related solutions that are simple only in their explanations: 1) YouTube needs to defend its “own” content on the behalf of the content owners, or 2) YouTube needs to apply a license, whether of Creative Commons or its own design, to videos on its network. Failing to do either of these will make YouTube more valuable to quality content producers like Chris and make YouTube a better distribution tool while muting some arguments for DRM protection of content.

Off topic for a bit: How can the content be safer without DRM? A license outlines the legal uses of content whether or not DRM is used. DRM only seeks to enforce the terms of a license. This is one of very few areas where I disagree with Google’s and the tech world’s “technology can solve all problems” attitude. Criminal law, after all, relies on the threat of punishment to stop crimes. Security cameras may make catching criminals and enforcing the law easier, but it’s by indirect methods and still relies on the legal process. Direct methods might use technology to stop a crime, but like so many cyberpunk sci-fi stories (for those who aren’t familiar with the genre, Minority Report is one that went mainstream) technology might also cause its own flavor of crime.

Back on Chris’ complaint, the usage of content originally submitted to YouTube isn’t defined or enforced. It enters a wide gray area that the law doesn’t have a strong grasp of right now. What isn’t a gray area though, and what will soon reduce Zango’s influence and profitability, is the removal of Zango pages from Google’s results. We already know how Matt Cutts and Google feel about 3rd party search results, like Zango’s, in Google results. Recent months have seen the Technorati traffic ride ended and a similar Squidoo traffic ride ended.

Hopefully the attention of Chris’ post means it won’t be long before Matt all but drops Zango from Google’s results. Personally, I’d like to see Zango blocked from the Google index entirely because of the malware-nature of their video player. Nonetheless, despite that even the slow-to-the-digital-age FTC agrees that Zango pushes malware Google is the biggest player in the video market and might see an antitrust lawsuit if they block Zango entirely.

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