Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels wishes NBC would let him put more clips up on YouTube.
"I think that YouTube is great, because if you do something like 'Dick in a Box,' someone in Pakistan can see it," said Mr. Michaels in an interview with Felix Gillette at the New York Observer. "YouTube has been great for us."
But as anyone who has searched YouTube for SNL clips knows, good clips are few and far between. Why? Competition and rights issues.
First, NBC puts its own clips on NBC.com which, by the way, was the most-trafficked network Web site in March, with 37 percent of visits.
Second, NBC can't always clear the rights to music or material in the sketches. "Very often, music in a sketch is not clearable," said Mr. Michaels to the Observer. "Very often, a sketch that I would love to put up there I can’t, because you’d have to clear it with the publisher."
Google and YouTube, of course, are well aware of this problem. When I spoke to Google's director of television advertising last month, he told me that network sites can only keep content up for a limited time due to licensing and promotional agreements with producers, ASCAP and other entities.
Google and YouTube, of course, don't have to abide by those agreements--they only have to abide by the DMCA. And you wonder why Viacom is suing them.