The REALLY REAL reason Google bought YouTube

April 9th, 2007

Now that YouTube has money behind it, Google can expect legal action from a whole bunch of people… some of it justified.

That was truly insightful, at least for me.

Google’s core business model revolves around “fair use” and similar provisions of copyright law. I think they are most vulnerable in this area– look at Belgium. So Google needed to buy YouTube for a couple of reasons related to this.

The first is because YouTube’s business model also revolves around many of the same “fair use” provisions, and if YouTube loses its upcoming court cases, the fallout could fatally poison Google’s business model. It would be very hard for Google to immunize itself from any judgments against YouTube that changed the interpretation of copyright law. Purchasing YouTube allows Google to directly counter such an attack with all its resources. It also decreases the likelihood of such an attack, since all the ambulance chasers who were smacking their lips in anticipation of an easy meal from YouTube’s carcass are now slinking away, looking for easier prey that won’t be able to fend them off for years with delaying tactics.

The other reason that occurs to me is that the most important part of strategizing any conflict is choosing your battlefield carefully. Google is under constant threat of serious litigation over copyright concerns. Google has just bought a battlefield where these litigations can be played out, that is comfortably distant from the fields of green where Googles’ cash cows graze.

I expect that Google is developing the muscles it needs to directly influence copyright legislation, and I expect it is also going to be increasingly influential in copyright litigation as well (intervening with friend of the court briefs, etc). This all seems to be part of Google’s mission statement: [] “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”



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