Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do You...Uh...YouTube?

When I learned we would be discussing amateur creators this week, my first thought immediately went to YouTube, the ultimate UGC – user-generated content, or amateur creator platform, where anyone can conceive, create, and publish a video of whatever they want; where your next door neighbor can become the next big superstar.

Or is it? Jin Kim, a professor of new media studies and communication theory at the College of Saint Rose, talks about a shift in the creator content on YouTube in his article, “The Institutionalization of YouTube: From User-Generated Content to Professional-Generated Content.” Essentially, Kim finds that while still the purveyor of amateur video content, YouTube has fallen prey to traditional media ever since its acquisition by Google in 2006, especially pertaining to copyrighted materials and advertising. Starting in 2007 Google implemented a series of “content management” tools that can decipher whether a video uses copyrighted material and alerts the owner, giving them the option to pull it, leave it, or earn money from it. In this same vein, YouTube is now rife with advertising, from the homepage to the 30-second promos that play before a video begins. Advertising not only draws revenue but signals a shift in the generated content from user to professional, because companies are reticent to place ads on videos that not only look like a fourth grader made it but could contain illegally obtained copyrighted material.

For librarians, this is an important topic because YouTube has become one of the ways we connect and share important or fun information with our patrons; it is also a way our patrons communicate and share with each other. And the more we know about how YouTube is changing, or has changed, the better position we are in to assist our patrons, especially in the proper usage of copyrighted materials.


Kim, Jin. “The Institutionalization of YouTube: From User-Generated Content to Professional-Generated Content.” Media Culture and Society 34, no. 1 (2012), 53-67.

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