Thursday, April 28, 2011

Frightening Tornado Videos from Tuscaloosa

Cross-posted from the YouTube Trends Blog

Nearly 200 people were killed this week by severe weather that blasted the South, with a reported 32 deaths in Tuscaloosa alone where one of the largest tornados touched down Wednesday at around 5pm. Wind speeds are said to have topped 135 mph.

Following the storm, we're seeing an influx of incredible video of that tornado. Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, searches for videos from the storm were among the top rising on YouTube. Below you is a play list of some of the videos drawing the most attention overnight and this morning:

(Use the arrows to navigate between videos or watch them all here.)

We will update if/when more video becomes available.

Big Mike Breaks Down the Deficit

The recent budget debate saw a number of politicos using YouTube to explain their position on the budget in a visually compelling way. We previously highlighted Paul Ryan's popular video "The Path to Prosperity" but the below video, from, has also been getting a lot of traction over the last two weeks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Want to cut my health care? I'll battle (rap) you for it!

Fed up with sweeping national cuts to public health services, British Rapper MC NxtGen raised his voice in the most natural way he knew -- through a diss video posted to YouTube. His video, a highly personal attack on the Department of Health's white paper "Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS" is specifically, and memorably, aimed at the health minister, Andrew Lansley.

I could speak more about the ever expanding vehicles for civic participation, the power of YouTube videos to spread messages virally (whether serious or not), NxtGen's witty juxtaposition of high brow criticism and low brow insult, etc etc, but really, just watch the video:

I can hear them in the clubs throughout the UK, rapping emphatically "Andrew Lansley, greedy! Andrew Lansley, Tosser!"

Check out the full story here.

Mashups, parodies and lip dubs: Ask a legal expert about Fair use

Cross posted from the YouTube Blog

The strength of the YouTube community lies in its creativity. Often this takes the form of memorable original content, such as Rebecca Black’s recent hit song / music video, Friday.

However, as the Rebecca Black phenomenon demonstrated yet again, this creativity also lies in the community’s ability to produce parodies, mashups, and remixes of well-known original content. In fact, if you love Rebecca Black, thanks to the YouTube community’s endless ability to riff on popular memes, there are a number of examples of Friday-inspired parodies. Here’s one from funnyman Conan O’Brien, which has close to half a million views:

Why are YouTube users like Conan allowed to produce parodies of Rebecca Black’s original song?
Fair use.

Fair use is a legal term that grants creators an exception to the strict copyright that the original content owner controls -- in layman’s terms, it’s the idea that as long as the use is “fair,” someone can reference part of someone else’s work for parody, scholarly reasons, or more.

What constitutes “fair use” is a complicated issue and one that we get asked about quite often. So we’ve asked two leading experts from the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, Anthony Falzone and Julie Ahrens, to help answer your questions.

Falzone is the Executive Director of the Fair Use Project and a lecturer in law at Stanford Law School. Ahrens is the Associate Director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford Law School. As litigators they have defended everyone from video game makers, to writers, to artists (including Shepard Fairey) against copyright claims.

Using Google Moderator you can ask Falzone your questions about fair use and vote on other questions. They will answer a selection of the top-voted questions via video and we’ll post it on this blog on Monday, May 2. Question submission close at the end of the day today so ask your questions now!

Will Houghteling, YouTube News and Politics, recently watched “The Path to Prosperity

Friday, April 8, 2011

Participate at City Hall, via YouTube

What if you want to participate at City Hall but you can't physically make it to the open meeting? Is it really government of and for the people if only a select few can literally have their voices heard?

Reset SF is hoping to answer these problems with a bold new initiative to allow citizens to submit YouTube videos to city hall hearings in SF.

Through this initiative they want every San Francisco Board and Commission meeting to respect YouTube video submissions on the same level as in-person public testimony. Our government operates based on the input from the citizenry - and with the current requirement of in-person testimony, there's a limit, about 1,000 people, who can actually lobby at city hall and have their voice heard.

The issues discussed at Board of Supervisor meetings effect all San Franciscans. But too often job, school or family responsibilities take precedence, and spending a day at city hall to testify just isn’t realistic.

Reset San Francisco’s proposal is to allow citizens to provide two minute or shorter YouTube clips to be presented at Board of Supervisor meetings. Using free and simple technology to open up local government, and eliminating the in-person testimony requirement, Reset SF hopes that a greater number of San Franciscans would make their voices heard in Board and Commission meetings.

Ultimately, this would allow more citizens to be engaged with their local politics, which will hopefully mean a more efficient and responsive city government.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Path to Prosperity: America's two futures, visualized

Yesterday Paul Ryan, House Budget Committee Chairman, released a bold plan, entitled the "Path to Prosperity," to cut up to $6 trillion in national spending over the next decade. His plan touches on many of the tent poles of American government, from tax structure to entitlement programs, and is likely to reframe the conversation in Washington. As Mike Allen wrote in Politico's Playbook, this ambitious plan could be received politically as an honest and adult response to the rising national debt or as an overreaching cut in government, delivering many key constituencies to the Democrats in 2012.

In order to manage the message Congressman Ryan used traditional media outlets, such as an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, to explain his plan to the public. Ryan also used YouTube to bring his plan to life and visualize the data behind his decision in a way that he couldn't through other media channels.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Obama announces 2012 presidential run on YouTube; Republicans retaliate

Obama, who dominated YouTube in 2008 with 150 million video views, officially announced his 2012 presidential run today, and he returned to his old video stomping ground to do it. Here's the video:

In an interesting move, the video does not really feature President Obama, in either image or speech. Instead, it includes the voices of his supporters. This is a smart idea, and not an entirely new one. Obama used a similar tactic in 2008's "Signs of Hope and Change" video, which was both an iconic representation of the grassroots movement and also heavily viewed:

But this year the Republicans are expecting Obama to bring his A-game and they are ready with a retaliation plan. The NRSC published this spoof ad four days ago, clearly expecting an Obama declaration this week. The NRSC video already has over 550,000 views. In addition, shortly after Obama's announcement video was released, Republican nominee Tim Pawlenty pushed out this counter-video.

In summary, Obama may be revving up his YouTube engine but the Republicans are showing that they're far more prepared than they were in 2008. If today's activity is any indication, it's going to be an interesting fight in 2012 for Battleground YouTube.