Ze Frank, YouTube, and Making Money

Ze Frank's discussion on YouTube, copyright, control and/or money, and how that represents the coming of age of indie online video.
Heather Green

I've recently become a fan of Ze Frank's video blog, which is saying a lot for me because it's hard to concentrate these days in hot and muggy NYC and Frank's pretty intense. Each day he does a short, smart, staccato take on the news, his life, his surroundings, and most recently Condi Rice's magic diplomatic satchel.

I spoke to him earlier this week for a story I did about YouTube off the recent copyright infringement suit that looks at how creative types and the video sharing service are trying to figure out how to divide up the new power they have. The seed came from a blog post I did last month about the guys behind the Diet Coke and Mentos article.

Though Frank didn't make it into the article, he discusses on his show on Thursday some of the things I asked him about (and which I had been planning to blog about after a couple of work things settled down.)

He thinks there is a coming of age happening online, as demonstrated by the recent debate among blogs kicked off by Wired News and Boing Boing about YouTube's terms of services. As more people invest more time into these videos, and the prospect of making money actually begins to become real, it makes sense that the discussion begins to turn around who controls what and who makes money.

Frank is deliberately trying to create a show and a brand and he wants to figure out a way to support himself. That's why he chose to upload his videos on Revver, a videos sharing service that shares revenues. But just as important, he's trying to keep control of the archive of his shows so that sometime in the future he can figure out a way to make money with them.

"I think that everyone across the board is perking up their ears about this online video space, everyone from the networks to the advertisers to production companies and venture capitalists. People are starting to notice (Youtube's TOS) because there is a sense of empowerment in the space."

For every 1 Frank, there are plenty more folks who don't care about the control of their works. And that's fine, but we are seeing some delineation happening as people navigate this emerging landscape. Heck, I see even Amanda Congdon, who is an indie video veteran, is asking people not to upload her videos onto YouTube.

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