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Google and YouTube: copyright concerns

Missing your favourite television programme has never been less of a problem. If Jonathan Ross has a great line-up of guests on his Friday night chat show, wait a week or so and the interviews will be freely available on YouTube.

These new terms for television on demand are great for viewers. They allow us to break free from the restrictions of the TV schedule, deciding when and where we watch content. But production companies and advertisers are often less than willing for us to pull the strings.

While YouTube's popularity is growing by the day, so is the likelihood of litigation, and its rumoured acquisition by Google can only increase the pressure. At the moment, YouTube is a highly popular startup that doesn't rake in huge amounts of revenue. It's also built up a great deal of good will, with constant referrals and recommendations from popular websites, radio shows and even TV programmes. Most people view the site through rose-tinted glasses.

The days when Google enjoyed such goodwill are gone, however. The popularity of the brand and the loyalty of its millions of users are unquestionable. But it lost a certain amount of its coolness as soon as it went public. It's now a multibillion-dollar company with more responsibility to its shareholders than to its users.

If the rumoured acquisition of YouTube happens – and remember, it is just a rumour – lawyers are certain to look at Google's wealth when considering the worthiness of lawsuits targeting the copyright material available on YouTube. It will have to tread extremely carefully when considering how to deal with other people's content.

That might not be a good thing for those of us that enjoy catching up with programmes on the web.

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