Viacom CEO: “Creative… Who?”

Phillippe Dauman, the CEO of Viacom (You know, the little company currently embroiled in a lawsuit with YouTube?) was brave … Continued

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Phillippe Dauman, the CEO of Viacom (You know, the little company currently embroiled in a lawsuit with YouTube?) was brave enough to get up on stage and field questions at the Web 2.0 Summit today. Gotta give him props for that. But surprise, surprise: he doesn’t really get Web 2.0 at all. His idea of opening up Viacom content is to make it available on Viacom-branded show Web sites—with no embed codes for sharing, naturally.

At one point during the interview, he was asked to comment on the announcement today by a coalition of big media companies that industry standards for digital copyright use need to be enacted. Dauman responded:

“There’s been a consensus among developers and content providers. Today’s announcement is meant to benefit consumers, bringing them what they want and encouraging creators of great professional content to continue to produce great content. And there’s been an acknowledgment by all parties that there needs to be rules of the road.”

Now, as far as I can tell, that’s whole point of the alternative copyrights offered by Creative Commons. And I was surprised that the interviewer didn’t call Dauman out on that, so I went up to the mic and asked the question myself. Here’s what I said:

“I noticed that you very carefully expressed the value of “professional creators of great content.” To me, the emphasis on the word “professional” seems to indicate some sort of implicit feeling about non-professional content creators. So my question for you is two-pronged: What’s your feeling about the value of user-generated content and remix culture, and what do you think of Creative Commons?

Dauman sat silent for a moment, looking—as an audience member later commented—”like a deer in the headlights.” He finally responded, “I’m sorry, Creative…?” The interviewer on stage repeated the question to him and he said,

“I love all creators of content. I did not mean to make the distintion between professional and non-pro content creators. UGC is great. We’re 100% focused on content creation, that’s all we do.”

And then he rambled on for several minutes about the Laguna Beach virtual world, effectively avoiding the question. Sorry, CC, I tried. —Megan Miller