Recently, CBS has undertaken an internet campaign to remove copyrighted Star Trek episodes from YouTube. Some accounts operated by Trekkers upload whole seasons of Star Trek episodes from various series, such as Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation; the video quality may not be perfect and the audio isn’t always synchronized with the video, but all in all, uploaded Trek episodes are highly treasured among adoring fans of Star Trek, much like gold-pressed latinum.
Despite their popularity, Star Trek episodes are copyrighted, and freely redistributing them without proper permission is a legal offense. As such, CBS invokes its right to file claims against YouTube and remove copyrighted Star Trek episodes. YouTube users, like MoralityVirtue2, NickLacarno, and other well-known Trek fans in certain circles of the online social medium, have come under attack for uploading Star Trek episodes. CBS has cited such accounts for copyright infringements and thus their videos, as well as their online accounts, are being deleted.
Star Trek fans in the internet community, especially on YouTube, have expressed resentment toward CBS, and copyright claims are not the only reason. Aside from removing episodes from other accounts, CBS even removed their own YouTube collection of episodes from Star Trek: The Original Series, which were replaced by a myriad of 3-minute excerpts from the show. Fans have since rebuked with unpleasant messages and angry commentaries on the few Star Trek videos posted by CBS.
Though the broadcasting network is within its rights and still posts free episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: Enterprise on startrek.com with only sparse commercial interruptions, the animosity of many Star Trek fans on YouTube is the result of being denied the opportunity to upload and view their favorite Star Trek episodes online. Trek fans have even commented on videos and YouTube accounts questioning CBS’s real motivations for removing content no longer on the air and not quite nearly as profitable as their more recent shows, like Criminal Minds and CSI: Miami. The intensions of CBS may solely be monetary, and if so, the problem could be remedied by establishing partnerships between YouTube users and CBS in order to allow advertisements to pay for the episodes Trek fans wish to upload. Advertisements may be annoying and CBS may not allow every episode to be posted on YouTube at a time, but ensuring some level of independence on the account of Star Trek fans to post their favorite episodes for other Star Trek fans to watch would not only improve CBS’s online reputation, it may actually inspire others to go out and buy the episodes on DVD. This alternative may not ever go into effect, at least not anytime soon, but it would certainly return Star Trek to the fans and still allow CBS to profit off their assets: a win-win for everyone.