... YouTube has arranged licenses for providing streamed online content from many copyright holders (users as well as [commercial] entities like MTV etc.). I dare say that the fact the YouTube don’t allow downloading of the clips is a very important part of these agreements.
So really I think, it’s a matter of YouTube [aggressively] ensuring that they don’t break their own agreements with copyright holders. If they’re seen as allowing this sort of thing people like Universal and BMG are going to get unhappy quickly.
Somewhat in line with above, here’s what YouTube’s Zahavah Levine has to tell me on this (my emphasis):
This might be true for some users – but other users, in fact, don’t have the authority over the content they uploaded in the first place. (Not that I think that that’s bad; I think that copyright laws need to be changed to honor this type of – commercially non-threatening – hobby remixing. But that’s yet another discussion.)
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