Field Theory by Hadyn Green


Blue Sky Thinking

Copyright is a funny thing. You make something, you own it. If other people use it, and don't give you whatever you believe you are owed then you can shut them down. And fair enough after all it is your stuff.

But sometimes, letting others distribute your stuff can lead to good things for you.

Take Star Wars for example. George Lucas is known for being a hard-ass when it comes to copyright infringement, but if you aren't making money off of it and are just dressing up as Tauntauns in your backyard, he encourages it. Which is how you get amazing community projects like Star Wars Uncut.

So why does Sky want to stop the Jedi? (see what I did there?)

Jed "Jedi" Thian of the Alternate Rugby Commentary (ARC) sent out a slightly cryptic, very angry email a few days ago to his supporters. It was a rallying cry.

The global network that grips the mainstream world in its grasp has shown its final desperate measure by shutting down the GeneralThian YouTube channel and clearly they think that this is ‘end game'.

And you know what? They are right.

Friends of the Alternative Rugby Commentary numbering in the hundreds of thousands have enjoyed the edits posted over the last two years and in a fit of rage; not too dissimilar to penis envy, the stiff neck suit and tie guardians of the airwaves have decided that the ARC is in fact bigger and better, longer and strong, louder and prouder than they can truly handle.

And so with the knowledge that they have been getting a right royal pumping by the David of the internet, Goliath hath dealt what it believes is the final blow.

And you know what? They are wrong.

Now it shouldn't be too surprising that Sky decided to close down a YouTube channel that had Sky footage of games that Sky has exclusive broadcast rights to. Even though it was reedited and had a new commentary track, essentially Jed's commentary was illegal.

Yet it seems this is a personal attack on Jed and the ARC. Rugby Dump, arguably a larger contributor to "stolen" videos, is still up and running. So what gives?

It could be the fact that the ARC is huge. Really huge. The GeneralThian channel on YouTube was getting hundreds of thousands of views compared to a the small amount watching the games Sky put online. You eat too much from the big dogs plate and you get bitten.

Except that's not the correct metaphor. Sky is offering product X, the ARC was offering product X+Y (where Y=Jed's brilliant commentary) and X+Y>X. So the question is, why didn't Sky offer some kind of partnership instead of just going for the closure?

Like George Lucas seeing that fans making their own Star Wars movies would be good for his projects, Sky should've seen that the ARC was doing wonders for the falling ratings of rugby.

But that train has sailed, Jed is taking the ARC on the road. The ARC are heading to London in November for the All Blacks' end of year tour, then he'll be doing the Hong Kong Sevens in 2010 and possibly even the 6 Nations in 2010. Rumours abound that the BBC might even call him in guest commentate a game.

In the meantime we'll stay in New Zealand and complain about Murray Mexted.

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