This week we’ve been mourning the loss of YouTube content on TinyTube’s mobile site, and thinking how much of a bully YouTube has become, given YouTube is built on user-generated content and copyright infringements. To see if this meant the end of TinyTube, we tracked down the founder, Allen Day, who ended up being a mellow, soft-spoken tech hobbyist, who created the site as a side project of his consulting firm Spicy Logic
Day says the site has been up only 3 weeks and already has on the order of 40,000 to 50,000 users. After a YouTube executive contacted him and asked him to remove YouTube’s content, he decided not to fight back and simply removed it. Day says that YouTube took exception to the way TinyTube transformed its video into a mobile format, which they saw as a form of redistribution. He complied with the demands but isn’t exactly happy about it.
“We are not willing to push YouTube and argue with them, though, we hope this is not permanent. As a user and a fan it is really a disappointment to see the direction that YouTube has taken,” says Day.
We’re thinking it’s not a coincidence that YouTube’s warning email was delivered around the same time that the Verizon deal was announced — there’s probably even Verizon’s lawyers lurking in the background somewhere.
Now Day says TinyTube is running Google videos and Metacafe videos, but does not have any formal agreement with these companies either. Day says he hopes to get formal agreements from content providers in the future and build a mobile video aggregation site even without YouTube’s content. Good luck. (We contacted Metacafe and Google and will update the story if they have a comment.)
Day might be pretty relaxed on the issue, but we’re not. TinyTube’s YouTube service was a symbol of how the mobile web can work as openly as the Internet. So shutting down the service means the wall is still firmly up and holding — depressing. Unlike some other publications, we’re not lawyers, so we’re not sure who’s in the right legally. But this sure makes YouTube look bad. What do you think?