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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Video Bloggers In Danger of Shut-down

Video bloggers appear to be in danger of falling foul of the nanny state European Union concern for "standards for  TV."

Adam Sherwin, writing in The Times,  notes that the EU propose making web sites and mobile phone services conform to standards they lay down.

All I can say is I'm just glad they weren't involved with the early Internet otherwise they wouldn't have the opportunity to stunt it's growth now.

For once UK ministers appear to see the stupidity of trying to apply the EU's draft rules (aka the Television Without Frontiers directive) to amateur Internet video.

But of course at the same time they compromise, saying that if a video on the Internet looks like a TV programme it must be one.

What does that mean?

It opens a further can of worms.

And of course we'll get more regulators, the video police. They'll spend time and money creating criteria to help them decide whether a video is a programme, or not. And pursue to the ends of the earth those who aren't licenced to create content.

 The Minister notes that businesses can operate from outside the EU.

Really? Well they're certainly operating in the enormous US market.  Do they honestly think they're going to stop business from using the Internet to provide content people want?

That's the point of the Internet content can be hosted in any country and available in almost any country. You might as well suggest that you try and close down all the adult sites that break a law in one or more countries. I suspect that's a greater danger to the World.

Does this storm in a teacup matter to business?

Yes it does because:

  •  what happens if you video your annual meeting and put it on the web with some extra footage from your company CEO and Operations director? Does that make it a documentary and require you to get licenced?
  • Or perhaps you've some great video tutorials that you want to use as an incentive for people to buy your coaching course. Are they educational programmes?
  • What about if you've a product video that you offer freely to all your prospects? Does that make the video a product placement programme?
  • What about video diaries and video bloggers. Are they reality shows? Will they need to spend time blanking out any product logo they show? Do they need to be licenced too?

The beauty of the Internet has been an almost pure free marketing approach so that if people want something they can get it. If they don't want something offered on the Internet they can simply click away or not visit in the first place. So a business lives or dies by delivering what customers want.

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