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Mark Cuban is predicting the decline of YouTube over on his blog. He claims that if you take away all the copyrighted videos, “Youtube turns into a hosting company with a limited video portal”.

Yeah, I go to YouTube primarily for copyrighted stuff. I missed Conan O’Brien’s opening to the Emmy’s and I went to YouTube to see it. My wife jumped on the wagon when she discovered all the classic Sesame Street skits that people have uploaded. Actual user created content probably only accounts for less than 10% of what we watch there.

But we all know that you can’t take all of that material away. It’s just not practical. So these snippets, trailers, etc. are there to stay and YouTube will attract users with them.

Even if you could identify them and take them down, who can say that the copyright owners would actually take them down? Right now, I don’t see NBC bothering to take down last night’s Leno monologue. The owners are already trying to use YouTube as a channel. Also, they’re already losing dedicated ad time to the Tivo/DVR movement, so they have to move to product placement.  And once they move to product placement, the more people who see it, the better.

And even if the copyright owners decide to take down the videos, YouTube is stil the default place where you put personal videos that you want to share with others, just like Flickr is the default place to put your photos. That’s not a bad place to be. Ad revenue definitely drops, but then so does bandwidth and hardware costs. I have no idea if it would be profitable…

Anyway, things will get really interesting when the bandwidth and hardware infrastructure gets fast and cheap enough that users can put up and watch full feature length movies on YouTube. Napster is different from YouTube now because full songs/albums, things that people have generally paid directly for, were easily accessible. Most people don’t pay for video content except for movies and DVDs. When those are available on demand for free, the game changes…

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