The good news is that YouTube is streaming the original Ghostbusters movie in full for free for a whole week as a celebration of its 25th anniversary. The bad news is that only those resident in the U.S. are getting the pleasure due to territorial rights licensing. Which sucks.
Long-Form YouTube Content
YouTube has been dabbling in long-form content for a while now, doing deals with content providers, movie studios, and independent filmmakers to get videos on the site other than 10-minute shorts of people filming their animals doing funny things.
It has, for a few months, been featuring content from Crackle, which includes several full-length movies. And now Ghostbusters has been added to the roster, albeit for just seven days in order to commemorate the film’s 25th anniversary.
Ghostbusters on YouTube
Ghostbusters was released in 1984 and was a huge box-office hit. It starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis as three pseudo-scientists who go into business cleaning New York of ghosts and ghouls. The film recently passed its 25th birthday and is back in the news because Ghostbusters 3 is being developed.
So, for the next seven days, Ghostbusters will be available to watch in full for free on YouTube. After that, the movie will disappear into the ether once again. The film has been monetized with adverts, and Sony and YouTube are sharing any revenue made on it over the next week.
Territorial Rights Licensing
Unfortunately, due to those entirely unnecessary territorial rights licensing agreements, Ghostbusters on YouTube is only available in the United States. Which leaves those of us who live elsewhere (I personally am in the U.K.) staring at a message which reads, “This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions.”
I’ve banged on about the ludicrousness of this situation a couple of times before, arguing that the world is now connected like never before, and in that context territorial rights licensing seems not to fit anymore. And until the situation changes online video cannot reach its full potential.
Hacked Off But Hopeful
I’m annoyed about the U.S.-only situation rearing its ugly head again, especially in light of YouTube acting as if it’s only America that matters.
However, I would still like to see the streaming of Ghostbusters on YouTube be successful because the more people that watch it and sit through the advertising breaks, the more likely Sony and YouTube will be to repeat the experiment again.
YouTube is built on short-form content and that is unlikely to ever change. But long-form content is slowly starting to find its way on to the site.
If these kinds of efforts are rewarded by big viewing figures and reasonable revenue figures, the big movie studios are going to be more receptive to the idea of Web video.
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