Archive for 17th April 2007

Hey, I’m A Cite-Worthy Source Now

Cool. I just noticed I was cited in an article on New York Magazine.

The End of Good Stuff: Automated YouTube Take Down Notices

Quickly becoming one of the most talked up pieces of vaporware (okay, that’s not true), it seems Google is finally “very close” to enabling their “Claim Your Content” filtering system.

My main question is how the hell does it work?

It is supposed to automatically identify copyrighted content. This sounds impossible. How do you distinguish between fair use and infringement? What if I mash up a parody video combining elements of other videos? That is protected by law. How is YouTube going to keep people from maliciously (and believe me, they will) claiming material that they really have no right to?

For anybody who mentions things like “look certain patterns in the video…,” I reiterate the importance of protecting free speech: everybody has a right to report on, make fun of, or comment on any copyrighted material out there. That includes using it, so long as you don’t rip the entire thing. Any sort of automated scanning would fail to recognize such fair use.

However, if Google’s technology works, they will murder their competitors. Much like the idea of the digital transmission right, creating the one and only copyright safe haven will make YouTube powerful. It will be the center of user-generated content as well as licensed content. This is because once Google has this filter in place, the once-angry Viacom and friends will come back with arms wide open.

More importantly, it puts their competitors in deeeeeeeep trouble, especially if Google spent the past year patenting their new technology. It makes Google’s attempt a clear stab at respecting copyright, while everybody else just looks like thieves.

Of course, looking like stealing never really stopped something on the web. Nobody cares. Well, not you and I. But without the deep pockets of Google, what video site can withstand a billion dollar lawsuit? And that’s just from Viacom (hint: there are more owners out there).

Still, I think this ushers in the end of a great era. You know, sort of like what it felt like when Napster was finally taken offline. Not that BearShare, Morpheus, Kazaa, Lime Wire, torrents, and other things didn’t pop up afterwards and replace it.

So long YouTube of the wild-wild-west, we’ll miss you (as we move to your cooler to-be competitor that doesn’t have filters)!

Proof That Web Stats Are Bogus

While it was no secret that counting website visitors is notoriously inaccurate, comScore has released a study that indicates cookie tracking can over represent your visitors by a factor as high as 2.5.

Some interesting highlights in the article:

  • 7% of computers account for 35% of all cookies
  • 31% of Internet users cleared cookies during the month of the study
  • Only 4% of Internet users delete third-party but not first-party cookies
  • Traffic overestimation can be up to 150%

This is interesting because many online tools such as Google Analytics (which I use) leverages cookie track visitors. This is an example of a “third-party” cookie. The cookie is used to track when a visitor returns.

There is some good news: If this is the case, return visitor rates may be far higher than what is reported. Cookies are used to track return visitors, so if those cookies are getting wiped out, using the same logic, I can conclude my return visitor rate may be up to 2.5x greater. ;)

The alternative is to use server side tracking such as Awstats, or some combination. In reality, I don’t really care how many visitors I have, but it’s still an important thing to keep in mind.