I don’t want to make a habit of siding with Nick “The Prophet of Doom” Carr when it comes to all things Web 2.0, but I have to agree with him that Lawrence Lessig’s swipe at YouTube for not enabling “true” sharing does seem a little over the top. I know what Larry is up to — trying to point out why allowing people to download and make use of content is better — but I still think YouTube kind of sharing is a whole lot better than not sharing at all.
Call what YouTube does “Sharing 1.0” if you want. That doesn’t make it wrong, and “true sharing” right — and Larry probably wouldn’t put it in those terms. But there is definitely a moralistic tone to what he has written, especially since he explicitly says he’s talking about the “ethics of Web 2.0,” and I think that’s unfortunate. YouTube got to be so popular in part because it made it so easy to share video clips, by allowing anyone to embed a video in a web page or blog. To me, that is sharing. It may not be all that it could be, but it’s a big leap forward nevertheless.
As Scott Karp and Mike Arrington have both pointed out before me, the users of YouTube have pretty much voted with their mice, and they seem to think YouTube is doing something right. That’s good enough for me. Larry has since clarified what he was driving at here.