Common Craft seems to forget what makes viral videos … well viral

Anyone whoas been around the web for any length of time will have at some point come across those great videos by Common Craft that explain the common, and yet confusing, aspects of the Web using great diagrams and whiteboard drawing. You can be almost assured that any new video from them will be an almost instant hit finding itself being embedded on blogs all around the blogosphere.

Well according to a post over at Techdirt the other day the folks behind these great video are know wanting to start charging people for the right to embed those great videos on blogs

Like most viral video efforts, the videos are hosted on YouTube, which makes them easy to embed and share. Except, apparently, that’s not working within Common Craft’s business model. An anonymous reader sent over a story about how the company has set up a new licensing scheme for embedding its videos on websites, and the fees get pretty high pretty quickly. Digital Inspiration notes that embedding one of those videos on a popular website or blog could cost thousands, since the prices are based on views.

As Michael Masnick at Techdirt quite right points out this is really a difficult move to see actually working.

I’m sure some companies will pay, but on the whole, it seems to break the value chain here. Common Craft could, instead, offer up the ability to make custom videos for companies, but on its website, it says that they’d rather just focus on their own videos — and points anyone who wants custom videos to a series of other video producers. The thing is, if you want your video to be viral, you can’t also charge for it.

That’s the thing about viral videos – it is the easy ability to share – on a global basis – a cool video that then others can share in the same fashion, hence the term viral.

What Common Craft is doing is literally chopping their faithful and passionate viewers right off at the knees. In effect they are killing off the very thing that makes anything go viral on the web – the freedom to share with no or very little cost.

This isn’t going to end well.