YouTube Wars

The uninformed might think of YouTube as a place to LOL at cat videos. But as Tessa Stuart's cover story showed, the video-sharing site has become a big business — one in which content creators increasingly are fighting back against the networks that sell ads alongside their work (“Rage Against the Machinima,” Jan. 11).

Reader edohiguma gets right to the heart of the story. “As for this,” he writes, “ 'Can networks like Machinima and Maker sustain their rapid growth if the creators on whose backs they built their businesses revolt?,' the simple answer is no. Even without the creator revolt, unlimited growth is impossible.

SimonFraser4 seconds that bearishness. “The YouTube network bubble is going to burst, just as the dot-com bubble burst 12 years ago,” he writes. “If you believe the hype, then you'll be in the bubble when it bursts. Signing a contract because of all the money you think it will bring you is believing the hype. YouTube networks are middle men. Middle men only offer lubricant.

Networkfree writes, “From what I can tell, these networks are realizing that their business models are flawed in that they do not own any of the content or the distribution. Even while 'owning' a creator's YouTube channel, the networks are actually just renting the channel from YouTube. It's a flawed model when the intent is to add another layer to YouTube's business model. See: Zynga + Facebook.”

Finally, RichardStarr points out that creatives' problem with networks is nothing new. “This reminds me of the type of contracts still prevalent in the comic book industry. Greats like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko have had their work attributed to Stan Lee, who acted as the front man for Marvel Comics. News flash: The editor of a masterpiece is not the artist, and I've never seen any evidence that Lee was anything other than an editor.

“In any case, the work from the geniuses of the past have become the 'property' of Marvel comics, continuing the industry 'practice' of DC Comics, who took Superman from Siegel and Schuster when they thought they were only selling the individual story instead of the character. The creation of Image Comics gave independent creators a venue to produce comics and still retain the rights while giving the company distributing them a fair share. They need something like this in the YouTube world to help keep the 'suits' from stealing from yet another generation.”

Razing Cain

Why did the Army Corps of Engineers raze 40 glorious acres of vegetation a few miles north of the Getty Center? In part, they claimed, because gay men and homeless people who'd flocked there were endangering the public (“Razing Sepulveda Dam Wildlife Area,” by Beth Barrett, Jan. 11). Readers weren't buying it.

“So what if grown people are fucking in the woods,” writes Liliana Vasquez-Duran. “We don't go around bulldozing Yosemite or Yellowstone because people are caught fucking. Trust me, there are millions of tents that are rocking out there.

La Muerte agrees. “What a joke!!! My friends and I have ridden our bikes many times (late at night) around that park and never had a problem! They really did ruin a beautiful thing.

Moving Out

Patrick Range McDonald's Jan. 4 cover story about the downside of Hollywood's gentrification continued to get mail last week (“Hollywood's Urban Cleansing”). Suzie Wong, for one, wasn't buying his thesis. “So poor families with children are a bulwark against crime? That model has worked really well in South Central and Pico-Union, hasn't it?

But Mark J. Featherstone enjoyed the story. “Appalling, but not surprising,” he writes. “I found this expose hard-hitting and to the point. Jettisoning the lifeblood of what made Hollywood great will eventually transform Hollywood from a district of distinction to a sterile desert of banality before we know it. Don't be surprised if the L.A. City Council ultimately razes the Hollywood sign to make way for hillside condos in its wayward quest for total 'urban renewal.' ”

Finally, Fr. Michael Mandala, the Jesuit priest quoted in McDonald's story, took issue with McDonald's focus on Councilman Eric Garcetti. Mandala writes, “The story emphasized the reality faced by many residents forced to move out of Hollywood; however, the focus on attacking Eric Garcetti diminished these compelling personal experiences and resulted in a missed opportunity to illustrate the real issue — the critical need for more affordable housing.

“It has not been our experience that Eric Garcetti sought to push people out. We have found him to be a partner when seeking to change policies including creating affordable housing at Hollywood and Vine, housing for homeless, working for the mixed-income housing ordinance and leading efforts to pass Measure H to create funding for affordable housing …

“The loss of housing in Hollywood is real. … Instead of pointing the finger at Garcetti, we should be looking at how we can join in the positive work, as well as challenge ourselves, Garcetti and other city leaders to do better in Hollywood and across Los Angeles.”

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