Aug 16, 2007
TELEVISA V. YOUTUBE--WHO WINS? NOT THE AUDIENCE, OF COURSE
Due to Televisa's copyright lawsuit against Youtube, the latter has been marking as "video unavailable" an huge amount of telenovela material that was in Youtube thanks to the efforts of people around the world who invested their time uploading their personal collections of telenovela videos.
Following is a small sample of the many posts in blogs and bulletin boards complaining about this development (they're in Spanish):
pellejos p'al gato
In Youtube not only Mexican Televisa's telenovela videos are disappearing, but also many clips of telenovelas produced in other countries. Not to mention that Youtube is closing the personal accounts of anyone who has uploaded telenovela material.
This is sad. Youtube had become a true telenovela archive, a "must visit" place for telenovela lovers, and for scholars like me who have focused our research on this television genre. As far as I know, there isn't anywhere an archive that has samples of telenovelas from all producing countries. Telenovela videos are, like telenovela memories, scattered around the world in the homes of those audience members who were so enthralled by a particular show that they taped--some or all--the episodes of a particular telenovela. Thanks to their dedication, time and effort, telenovela videos were uploaded, despite the fact that most are in non-digital formats. Because of these people, Youtube became the greatest and most important telenovela archive in the planet.
Don't get me wrong. I know copyright laws. I also understand Televisa's right to keep selling their telenovelas, abridged and in DVD format. (I own a respectable collection of Televisa telenovelas in DVD that I've bought through the years). But, I don't believe the videos in Youtube diminished either the sales or interest in Televisa's telenovelas around the world. Au contraire, this material enticed audiences to watch and purchase Televisa's telenovelas.
The biggest loss, though, is of all the erased videos of telenovelas that weren't made by Televisa. In Youtube we could find impossible-to-find videos of Cristal, Yo soy Betty, la Fea (and its different local versions made in different countries), La Dueña, Las Amazonas, Ciudad Bendita, Kassandra, etc. None of these telenovelas are commercially sold. They are the sentimental property of the people who follow telenovelas around the world, and who now go back in time to when they only had access to the telenovelas broadcast in their own countries. This, obviously, strenghtens Televisa's dominance and hold on the global telenovela market. Those videos will be sorely missed by the telenovela Youtube audience.
They will be missed also in my classroom, where I won't be able to show anymore the variety of telenovela videos that allowed my students to understand the history and typology of telenovelas.
The absence of telenovela videos in Youtube will also increase the difficulty of studying this genre that is so popular, but also so mistreated...even by one of its most important producers.
October 12, 2007 Postscript: Two months after writing this post, a comment prompts me to look up in which court the lawsuit took place. I couldn't find it, which makes me think that the extensive deletion of telenovela material in Youtube was due to a warning from Televisa.