It's all fun and games until the prank backfires, spreads like wildfire thanks to the advent of social media, and ends with felony charges and a PR mess to clean up. Or at least that's how it went down for Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer, a pair of Domino's Pizza employees who filmed a prank in the restaurant's kitchen and posted it online.
The pranksters will be hard pressed to find any sympathy for the fallout, as their antics included filming an employee "putting cheese up his nose, nasal mucus on the sandwiches, and violating other health-code standards while a fellow employee provided narration," according to a report by The New York Times.
In just a matter of days, the video received over a million views on YouTube and was spreading nearly as fast via Twitter. After being identified, Hammonds and Setzer, who maintain that they never actually delivered the sandwiches, have been charged with delivering prohibited foods.
"We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea," said a Domino's spokesman, Tim McIntyre. "Even people who've been with us as loyal customers for 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino's, and that's not fair."
McIntyre also said the company is also preparing a civil lawsuit.
British songwriter and producer Pete Waterman, now 62-years-old, could never have predicted that the Rick Astley hit "Never Gonna Give You Up" would become a phenomenon some 20 years after he co-wrote it, so it must have come as some surprise to see the song get 150 million plays in 2008 alone. He also couldn't have predicted that so much 'air play' could earn him so little money, yet that's exactly what has happened.
"There was I sitting at Christmas thinking, 'I must have made a few bob this year with the old Rickrolling'," Waterman said at a press conference to mark the launch of a website campaigning for a fairer deal for songwriters whose music is featured on YouTube. "I rang my publisher and they said 'You'll be all right,' until I saw the royalty statement. £11. If 154 million plays means £11, I get more from Radio Stoke playing Never Gonna Give You Up than I do from YouTube."
In U.S. currency, Waterman's royalty payment converts to just $16, which hardly seems fair given how much exposure the song has received. The PRS for Music organization doesn't think it's fair either and wants Google and YouTube to pay higher royalties to songwriters for use of their work online.
"We absolutely believe that artists and songwriters should make money from the use of their material," a YouTube spokesperson said. "We previously had a license with teh PRS to enable this to happen and we are very committed to reaching terms so that we can renew our license."
Looks like Waterman got screwed, but we found a way he may be able to collect on those royalties after all. If you're reading this Waterman, click this link.
YouTube, in an effort to continue expanding as a media hub for more than just low quality, user-made content, is trying to hash out a deal with Sony Pictures to secure licensing rights to some of the studio's full-length movies, CNet reports. Such a deal would help YouTube better compete with the likes Hulu, Netflix, and other web video services.
It was just a week ago that YouTube was able to license short-form content from Disney, which also includes Disney brands like ABC and ESPN. But when it comes to feature-length content -- a crucial component if YouTube is to compete with other streaming services -- YouTube has only been able to snag a small number of titles from MGM.
Neither company is commenting on the report, but it's not hard to see why each one would be interested. Sony Pictures acquired streaming video site Crackle in 2006 for a cool $65 million and has since posted a bevy of full-length films on the site. By licensing a handful of flicks to YouTube, Sony would be promoting its Crackle acquistion. And of course it makes sense for YouTube, which was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion three years ago.
Do you think is a good move for either company? Hit the jump and sound off.
Although major ABC shows are reported to be at the heart of the discussions, the sources haven’t ruled out the possibility of the talks being expanded to include more content from Disney’s stable. Hulu is a joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp with each having a 45% stake. A source has revealed that one of the arrangements being discussed is to allow Disney to be on equal footing with the two majority stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Disney and Youtube have struck a deal paving the way for ad-backed Youtube channels featuring videos from Disney and ESPN. These video channels will only be available in the U.S and won’t feature entire shows from the Disney stable. The ESPN channel and the ABC channel are scheduled to go live in April and May respectively. But, according to another paidcontent.org report, Disney’s deal with Youtube will not affect its talks with Hulu.
Hulu is celebrating its first anniversary. And what an amazing inaugural year it was for Hulu: its market share rose steadily through the year making it one of the most riveting video sites on the internet. The video-on-demand site has stepped into its second year armed with new social networking features.
Now website users can share their favorite shows with each other using the new "Hulu Friends" feature. Users can import contacts from major social networks and email services. The site ensures that friends are kept up to speed with each other’s viewing activities. This move is expected to make Hulu more enticing for advertisers.
Youtube houses arguably one of the largest music-video collections on the internet, which even features some hard-to-find musical gems. Dan Nelson, a 15-year-old developer, has built an iTunes-esque, free-music service that streams Youtube music to the user’s desktop. His downloadable music player is called Muziic.
Muziic can be considered the notional progeny of Youtube and iTunes: it delivers free music available on Youtube in a seamless manner one associates with iTunes. But its adolescent creator is yet to secure Google’s endorsement.
Google’s gripe may emanate from the fact that there is no mechanism in Muziic to display the advertisements that usually accompany Youtube videos. So Muziic is effectively depriving Google of ads revenue that is lawfully its due. Having used Muziic, this author can vouch for its utility. But will it be music to Google’s ears?
Fans of Half Life and, well, things that are cool are advised to take a five and a half minute break from the daily grind and check out the fan film Escape from City 17 - Part One.
Directed by The Purchase Brothers, the life-action fan flick started off as a test project to experiment with various post production techniques, but has now turned into a multi-part series. The directors claim the short film was shot with "no money, no time, no crew, and no script," and that it only took $500 to make the first two episodes.
Check it out, then hit the jump and offer your critique.
Downloading Youtube videos has been a piece of cake for quite sometime now, though Youtube never expressly gave its assent to downloading until last month, when it made it possible for users to download videos from Barack Obama’s Youtube channel. As it turns out now, the company was just testing waters by allowing Obama’s videos to be downloaded.
Now, the video sharing website has formally approved downloading. Not all videos will be free to download, however, as users will have to pay a fee to download some of the videos. Youtube is testing an option that will let video publishers make their content available offline for free or for a price they deem fit. All payments will be processed by Youtube’s cognate company Google Checkout.
It is strange that Youtube expects users will actually be interested in paying for videos when they can be download for free through the large number of online tools available for that purpose.
Sony Music Entertainment became the first of the four largest recording companies to renew their music licensing deal with YouTube.
The renewal has ensured that Sony artists will remain on the video-sharing site exclusively. Deals such as this allow YouTube users to not only view the artist’s music videos, but to also use the label’s songs in their clips.
It’s been reported that Universal Music Group is close to breaking a deal with YouTube, and if they signed it would leave only EMI and Warner Music Group. Though, talk between EMI and YouTube ran into some trouble last month, and since then their content has been removed from the site.
Four Google employees have been slapped with criminal charges of defamation and privacy violation in Italy. Their legal woes began when an Italian organization complained against a video on Google Video – uploaded a couple of years ago – that shows four imbeciles tormenting a disabled person.
Although Google removed the video as soon as the complaint was made, Italian prosecutors decided to persist with personal criminal charges – an unprecedented move - against the four Google executives. Their trial will begin on Tuesday in Milan, Italy. These Google execs may even be consigned to an Italian prison for up to three years, if the charges against them are upheld.
It has vowed to “vigorously defend” its employees. "Seeking to hold neutral platforms liable for content posted on them is a direct attack on a free, open Internet" a spokeswoman for Google argued.