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YouTube – Tool or Time Waster or Big Brother

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 6:27 PM in , , , , ,
If you love film or TV shows or music videos or even stupid movies and you are hooked up to high speed Internet, you are probably half way to confessing your state of addiction to the web site, Youtube.com. Everybody shows up on YouTube sooner or later. You can watch both the United States Supreme Court and the Pope on this web site. Anyone who has a webcam, can play guitar and carry a tune has probably filmed himself or herself and posted the video on YouTube.

I am always amazed that no matter how obscure I think something may be, I will find a video of it there. In fact, when I was first let loose on it, I spent hours searching for old videos of Laura Nyro who was my favourite singer in high school and yes, Joni Mitchell too and found a lot of films to choose from. I’ve watched old episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on YouTube and looked at videos of San Francisco to help me with a piece that I’m writing. If you can’t be there, you can get a good idea of an area by watching a video of it.

Of course, there are issues of copyright infringement that get film and television companies a bit hot under the collar when they find their material illegally posted on YouTube. Viacom has sued Google for a lot of money. Where’s the profit in people having access to your wares for free? Apparently, even here, some companies have adopted an if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them attitude. One company, CBS, has allowed it and found an opportunity for making money by placing advertising in with the videos. Ironically, CBS is Viacom’s “sister company.”

While YouTube may be quite entertaining, there are some very real dangers that everyone should be aware of, particularly teenagers. We are living in an era when we are all Big Brother. Anyone who has a cell phone that is equipped to make videos can very easily film someone and post that film on YouTube almost instantly. So if you’re at a party and you stick the proverbial lampshade on your head and feel inclined to shimmy and shake to the delight of your equally inebriated friends, you may find that one of them thinks it’s an absolute hoot to post you on YouTube that night. The next day, you may think that film clip is humiliating and a prospective job opportunity might crumble into dust.

YouTube does have a privacy policy and people can request an offending video be removed but sometimes the consequences can become serious very quickly. At the beginning of August, YouTube was in the news as people were outraged by a video of three men in Saskatchewan shooting ducks and howling with laughter. They were finally arrested and faced conviction for breaking both provincial and federal wildlife laws. For these three, the consequences will live with them for a long time to come but of course, they were stupid enough to post the video in the first place so they have only themselves to blame.

As for the rest of us who prefer not to look like idiots for all to see, we will continue to find videos of children falling down or cats tumbling into toilets on YouTube. If you’re bored and you like that kind of thing, there will always be something to amuse you. A word of caution: if you’re at a party and you find someone holding up a video camera or cell phone at you, common sense would dictate that you drop like a fly and play dead. With any luck they will probably walk away. Stay still for a very long time just to be sure.

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