Which is why my jaw dropped when I saw that VEVO, a property jointly owned by some of the biggest record labels in the world, was showing a pirated stream of an ESPN football game at its Sundance PowerStation venue last month — on no fewer than two televisions, and a pair of laptops.
First, some background. VEVO is a sort of ‘Hulu for music videos’ that’s owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and the Abu Dhabi Media Group. EMI (which Universal and Sony are in the process of acquiring chunks of) has licensed its content to the site. Together, these labels comprise three of America’s ‘Big Four’ music labels — Warner Music being the lone holdout. And these Big Four make up the vast majority of the RIAA.
So when you hear about the record labels suing people, or trying to get ISPs to clamp down on users, or trying to pass legislation that could destroy the web as we know it — a lot of these people are behind it.
Why would VEVO pirate content? Because it was easier than getting it legally. This is the actual root cause of piracy online. It’s not shady, masked individuals at swanky events commandeering computers to pirate for the hell of it. It’s VEVO employees. It’s everyone.
[See this post. They’ve always had the wrong approach.]