Attention YouTubers

OK, so you have your TV routed through your computer in a way that lets you capture video. (Or in some cases, you have a video camera pointed at your TV, just to add that bit of analog warmth to a cold digital experience.) And you have some editing software, and maybe Photoshop.

You do not, however, own a video company. You don’t own a company of any kind. You are not a media mogul.

You are a guy passing around a videotape, just with better technology. You’re a guy who plugged your tape recorder into Guster’s sound board and swapped tapes with a guy in Omaha, where Guster doesn’t appear quite as often.

So when you post your recording on YouTube, don’t show me some bullshit “Starry Night Productions” logo. You didn’t produce crap. Most of the time, you’re violating the copyright of people who DID produce something. At best, you’re staying within your Fair Use rights and helping to promote the artists who actually did the hard parts — the concept, the scripts, the storyboards, the casting, the filming, the acting, the songwriting, the recording, the editing and whatever dues-paying they needed to even get into the position to do the concepts, scripts, storyboards, casting, filming, acting, songwriting, recording and editing in the first place.

If you write something original, crank it out on some musical instruments you have lying around and produce a video of yourself doing all that, fine. You can call it “Songs from My Parents’ Basement Productions” or whatever you want.

If you’re just passing along a recording … no. No. Bad dog. Got it?

What prompted this rant was the well-publicized post on Weird Al’s Top 10 videos. Have to say it’s a pretty good list. The new one is great, even if I don’t know the original. (That’s the problem with Weird Al today — music is so fragmented that there are no universal Beat It-stature songs to parody. He can either parody hip-hop or the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack, knowing that the audiences barely intersect. But if he’s going to bring the funny like that, he’s still worth a listen.)

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