Copyright strikes, modern creators, and why businesses need to adapt.

The internet has changed how people consume, instead of watching the news every night people have news at their fingertips. Albums are rarely purchased from record stores, they are now streamed from Spotify or Apple Music. Copyright and the internet have always had different interests and up until recently, these disagreements had been, mostly, solved.

But then copyright started disagreeing again. The culprit? Television.

Television is an incredibly visual format and modern technology is making it much easier to grab copies of popular television shows, which are then being used to make fan compilations. Whether that is compilations of whole shows, certain characters, sporting events or numerous other things.

The internet is also making popular television celebrities from vlogs or digital sketches, sports pundits are growing their own fanbases without the big paycheck from Sky Sports and they’re just regular folks like you and me. More often than not, these are analysis videos or reaction videos using copyrighted content.

Finally, we are now getting a lot more of pirated videos from major production companies cropping up on the internet with ease. These range from full episodes to quick clips, even full movies sometimes.

I’ll be honest though, I do enjoy some of these clip montages, especially the ones of Rhett and Link. These videos are usually reaching millions of viewers. Sometimes, even more than the original episode.

An example of a YouTube video using copyrighted material.

So now we have a problem, creators of television shows or YouTube shows are now finding their material in new forms across different channels they don’t own. But the big question that arises because of all of this? Should the production and media companies, even those owned by YouTubers, worry about these new types of content creators?

Most definitely not.

This brings me nicely onto the copyright strike issue that YouTube has, something that has become a joke among most legitimate content creators. I honestly didn’t think much of it until this week, when I saw a tweet from popular rugby union blogger, Squidge Rugby.

So what made me pay attention to this copyright strike, over the other ones that are going on? The content. I’m a fan of this particular content, rugby as a sport isn’t watched massively in the UK even though it was considered the “national sport”. This type of content, much like the other original mash-ups (like the Rhett and Link videos I mentioned earlier), entices a new set of fans and improves interest in original content. I certainly wouldn’t have known about Rhett and Link as much as I do without the fan-made compilation.

How did I come to this conclusion? I was curious and kept an eye on the aftermath of the Squidge Rugby copyright strikes. Almost immediately after the news began to spread around, the damage the brand had was unbelievable. It was essentially like watching brand self-harm. Many people were complaining that this was harming the sport, silencing one of its best critics.

It sounded to me like the claimant was much better off just leaving the videos online.

So how do we adapt copyright to the next generation?

The internet isn’t going anywhere, neither will fan-made content creators. Marketers and businesses need to “be ready” for it and by “be ready”, I mean they should be prepared for content to go global through channels that weren’t their own.

Understanding and supporting creators outside of your production ecosystem will help your brand grow, it will give you free advertising and grow your follower-base. Yes, you’ll lose some monetisation initially, but in the long run, you’ll be growing your brand without having to do much.

I also understand that copyright is important for businesses, but with the right education and tools these new content creators can become important brand ambassadors.

The future of marketing, as I see it, isn’t a single entity pushing brand messages but a collaborative approach between brands and content creators to share messages and promotions together. Copyright strikes are important, but for those who care about what you do – there are better ways to nurture, growing them and your brand together.

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