(Note: This is from a comment I made about YouTube on Profy.com. And don't worry, I have my own permission to re-use it.)
I think netizens have been spoiled by free content into thinking that they have an inherent right to get whatever they want whenever they want it. It’s certainly an easy state of mind to fall into. Copyrighted music and movie sharing on P2P networks is stealing and so is substantive re-use and gain from copyrighted content without the copyright-holder’s permission. I can’t strictly define “substanative” other than to say that showing a thumbnail image of a video wouldn’t be “substanative” but showing a certain amount of the video itself would be. Copyright holders get to make the call on if it’s fair use. Some might like the attention/marketing aspect of it, but some might not. Lately, not so much.
It seems that a site that simply aggregates links and information about videos on other sites in a user-centric way would be a smarter model than simply showing the videos directly. I assume those sites are out there. These sites can drive traffic to the copyright holders’ sites, which is what they want, and could provide the centralized hub that users want. Do we need to see it directly on the “hub” itself? Not really. Content sites just need to get their collective act together and create better, more user-centric sites while working with these hubs as much as possible.
YouTube should continue to aggregate user-generated content and video provided to them directly by copyright holders, but they need to get some common sense and quit acting like what they’re allowing on their site is something other than copyright infringement. Just because people want it doesn’t mean you should do it.