Music and GooTube

Google has had somewhat of an odd relationship over the years to music information, and music information retrieval.  They’ve never really had a consistent policy, research, or product agenda around music.  The specifics of that history is too rich to recount in its entirety here; if readers are interested, perhaps that can be the subject of future blog entries.  Instead, I’ll pass along this little tidbid from the Read/Write Web blog.  It seems that a clever teenager had written a media player application that streams music directly from Google’s YouTube service, bypassing Google’s web pages.  Here is the jist of the controversy:

“This site has yet to receive the blessing of Google, the large recording companies or the scores of film and TV rights holders who filmed the many live performances on YouTube. I doubt these companies will welcome a service that makes it easy for users to avoid YouTube ads. They certainly won’t allow the Nelsons to profit without at least receiving compensation,” Sandoval wrote.  Sandoval, who contacted YouTube Saturday night was told that this was the first time YouTube had noticed the site. “We’re looking into it now. On a preliminary review, however, it appears that the site violates our API terms of use,” the spokesperson told CNET.  However, it will be interesting to watch what the company, whose mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, will do with this young entrepreneur and his wish: to organize the world’s music information and make it universally accessible and useful.

This issue reminds me of Danny Sullivan’s November 2007 insightful musings on related Google initiatives (social apps, book search, even web search) entitled “Google: As Open as it Wants to Be (i.e. When It’s Convenient)“.  Whether or not Google shuts this teenager’s application down, another clever hacker could probably put together a browser-based Greasemonkey script that emulates much of this functionality.  It will be interesting to see how well that plays with the company.  To me, it highlights the ongoing problem Google faces by choosing an ad-supported business model.  As I wrote earlier, simply separating ads from content doesn’t automatically mitigate the ever-present conflict between users (and user information needs) and advertisers.

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