Incredibly well and succinctly summarized, Lucas. In fact, when put that way, the reasoning is so sound that it makes me want to click over and make sure that YouTube is still there! Online video should, by all rights, be dead in that same gulch.

I thought about it for a minute and I figured out what made the difference. Almost everyone makes videos for non-commercial reasons: to document their kids’ birthdays, to capture their cat doing something goofy, etc. So, they have no problem imagining that a user-generated video site that specializes in giving away video for free could be for mainly non-infringing purposes. They might wonder why anyone would want to watch all those cat videos, but they see the piracy as a sidelight, a nuisance or an unexpected illicit treasure.

On the contrary, though, when people see music on a site, they assume that it is pirated. Even if they know people in bands who play music for fun and for free at parties or wherever, most people who consume music still assume that anyone who makes music is only willing to part with it for cash. This is the main legacy of the RIAA’s endless battle these last few years: they convinced everyone that all musicians are selfish short-sighted boobs. This is why no one would think twice before enjoying a video of a high school jazz band playing the mario theme but all seem to radiate an aura of illegality.