Cuban on Google

For those of you who remember my panel at SXSW last year (“Can Art Survive Google?”), you will also recall the discussion we had regarding YouTube’s obvious violation of the reproduction right. You’ll also remember the head scratching regarding how YouTube’s counsel could argue that they didn’t violate the reproduction right based on a theory that the company didn’t do any copying–other than providing the technological means for users to copy videos and putting the YouTube logo on every video placed online. There are a lot of names for placing your brand in close proximity to another’s without permission, and none of those names are legal. Or–for the really stupid lawyers out there–protected by the notice and shakedown provisions of the DMCA. DM–Copyright–A. Not DM–Trademark–A. (Readers may recall my 2006 post about Google’s bad advice “Google’s Maginot Line: Will Google Wake Up to It in Time to Unwind the YouTube Deal?” Oopsie.)

Or said another way, they steal our stuff, but put their logo on it for just that added bit of insulting hubris that is the hallmark of Generation L.

Mark Cuban has a priceless blog entitled “You Tube Tries to Get Legal” in which he discusses Google’s decision to stop this extraordinarily idiotic arrogance–a must read for anyone who is trying to stay grounded in the midst of Bubble 2.0. The poor quality of the legal advice for YouTube pre-sale and Google during and post-sale is so bad that it’s downright bizarre, but someone seems to be getting the rather simple message. (Reason, could thy name be Patry?)

I’m sure that these demagoogles had some plan, some strategy–something–behind any one of a number of features that seem obviously infringing to a country lawyer from Texas who doesn’t read that mailing list whose name may not be said. It’s all so confusing for us, and we’re so lucky to have the pholks from Stanford to keep us from marrying our sisters.

But Dr. Cuban points out an interesting fact that I had actually overlooked since I just read the financial press–Google’s stock price is down 50% in four months. Cuban attributes that to the copyright infringement risk being priced into the stock, among other things.

I guess a stock price is kind of like the value of music according to Eric Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt tells us that music has no intrinsic value, it’s worth what the advertising market says it’s worth (or maybe the jury, eh, Schmitty?). And a stock price is worth what the financial markets say it’s worth. Just ask your pal Frank Quattrone, Dr. Schmidt. “‘Frank and his team bring unparalleled industry knowledge, a unique 25-year market perspective and candid, insightful judgment that CEOs greatly value on important strategic initiatives,” [Schmidt] added. “I look forward to working with him again.'”

Where is Mary Meeker when you need her? Oh, right, “Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker initially projected that the YouTube ads would bring in $720 million [in 2008].” Oops.

Oh, goodie. The bubble continues. Everything old is new again.

There is a truly fascinating (and scary) article in the February 08 Harpers about bubbles–I will return to this topic soon–that I find absolutely gifted in its analysis. Think about Google, Lessig, Wired’s Hearst-like boosterism of all things Internet (especially the rampant piracy that drove broadband penetration), Cuban’s theory of the fall of Google’s stock price and then read this:

“We have learned that the industry in any given bubble must support hundreds or thousands of separate firms financed by not billions but trillions of dollars in new securities that Wall Street will create and sell. Like housing in the late 1990s, this sector of the economy must already be formed and growing even as the previous bubble deflates. For those investing in that sector, legislation guaranteeing favorable tax treatment, along with other protections and advantages for investors, should already be in place or under review. Finally, the industry must be popular, its name on the lips of government policymakers and journalists. It should be familiar to those who watch television news or read newspapers. “

From The next bubble: Priming the markets for tomorrow’s big crash by Eric Janszen

When you take the long term view, and understand the importance to the Internet economy of broadband penetration, the only thing unusual about Lessig is that the industry didn’t create more of him. They got their ubiquitous connectivity, so they don’t really need a piracy apologist around anymore, which may well explain Lessig’s sudden fascination with corruption. The first Lessig Bubble is over. Whether there will be a second is probably tied more closely to Google’s stock price than one might think. Nobody thought Cisco would trade below 20, either.

Read that Cuban blog.