FAQ: Web 2.0 multimedia

Your audiovisual questions answered

Does multimedia make something Web 2.0?

Not by itself. Music and video online predate widespread Net adoption -- just ask the band Severe Tire Damage, first webcast in 1993. But the increased availability of inexpensive, always-on, high-bandwidth connections has encouraged both the spread of multimedia and of many of Web 2.0's more popular iterations.

Who are the players?

The two you're most likely to know are YouTube Inc. and MySpace.com -- one specifically for sharing video, one a catch-all for blogging, music sharing, video and some spectacularly ugly templates. There's also Second Life, the high-profile virtual world; a plethora of photo-oriented sites such as Flickr; and a constellation of music-oriented sites such as Last.fm and Pandora that rely on user interaction and data derived from multiple users.

Aren't MySpace and YouTube just hives of video and music piracy?

That's what Hollywood and the Recording Industry Association of America might to want you to think, though the film and music industries have taken to using both sites for promoting artists and projects. However, the explosion of low-end recording and editing technology means that amateur video and audio thrive in both locations.

At this writing, Viacom Inc. (which owns Comedy Central, the MTV family of music-video channels and other popular cable entities) is suing Google Inc. for alleged piracy on the search firm's YouTube subsidiary. According to U.S. law, Google as a service provider is not responsible for abuse of the service by individuals, but the Supreme Court's 2005 ruling in MGM v. Grokster left the landscape perilous. IP law expert Lawrence Lessig has characterized that decision as giving companies "two bites of the apple" when suing for alleged copyright violations.

And what about video and music mashups?

Good question. Please see the FAQ on Web 2.0 collaboration for more information.

And what about Second Life? Why should I care about a game?

Second Life isn't a game, really -- it has a leisure-activity vibe, but a number of companies and businesses are treating it as a marketing and merchandising destination, as well as an alternative to other kinds of conferencing. If you're curious about Second Life, though, may we suggest our extensive FAQ on the matter?

Return to the main Web 2.0 FAQ.

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