Discussions on user-generated content (UGC) itself have been generating immense content over the past few days. At the session on ‘User-Generated Content and Showcase’, the panelists voiced their opinions on the massive growth of this sector in India and elsewhere in the world.
Moderating the session, Sulekha.com chief executive Satya Prabhakar affirmed that the present UGC has a wider appeal, is persistent and allows people to interact and connect with a larger audience and observed that the ‘Letters to the editor’ column in newspapers is the oldest forms of UGC in any medium. With the increasing fight for space in the newspapers, the content generated was kept to a minimal. But with the growth of the Internet, there has been a sturdy growth of the same on that medium, he noted.
Pointing out the issues plaguing the space, Prabhakar said there were three key areas that needed immediate attention and which were: a) is the content sensible enough for the users b) legal issues and c) publicity by brands through the medium.
Yahoo India head for communities and communications I.M. Swaminathan spoke about the impact of UGC on different sectors like advertising, marketing and PR, communities, corporates and the offline media. Speaking about the impact on consumers, he asserted that it was the cheapest way to showcase talent. “The resent of UGC in India is only social networking and blogging. The future of the space here can become better with better broadband and 3G technologies along with proper moderation of content.”
Germany Media and Entertainment lawyer, Martin Diesbach, Norr Stiefenhofer Lutz, talked about the legal aspects dealing with UGC. Citing the example of Viacom’s plans to sue Google over copyright infringement in YouTube, he explained that the legal issues concerning the subject is varied across countries and can be broadly divided into two platforms.
“The two core problems on the issues arise between 1) UGC platform and third parties and 2) UGC platforms and its members,” he noted. Diesbach also stressed that UGC platform providers should shoulder liability along with the content up-loader for the copyright issues claimed by the content owners. Presenting the positives out of UGC for UGC platforms, he said, “They can look at newer business models emerging out of these like the remuneration for the content creators and from broadcasters.”
Meanwhile, Pankaj Thakkar, CEO, Cellcast India, elaborated on his company’s business of developing, producing and distributing of UGC across platforms like television, mobile and the internet. He observed that the gratification to user, in the form of recognition or money, is essential for the growth of this space.
He believed that content acquisition, broadband access and gratification to users are some of the challenges facing the medium in the country. Sharing the revenues earned by his company in UK over the last few months, Thakkar divulged, “We have generated close to 1.3 million pounds since our launch sometime back.” He felt that ‘Video Search’ will happen in the near future propelling the UGC space even further.
Sharing MSN’s perspective on the topic, Krishna Prasad, Executive Producer, MSN India, said, “We have many initiatives in this space like the MSN Soapbox, Windows Live Space, MSN Debate and so on. We have been instrumental in developing ‘Reverse Blog’ through which bloggers can have a wider, broad-base audience for their content.
The Q&A session at the end of the panel presentations brought forth many issues that were presently being discussed. The prominent topic of debate was of copyright infringement, which is considered the main reason for libels and suits plaguing the space. The panelists were divided on the ground for copyright infringement. The difference was observed on whether copyright infringement occurs only if the content is used commercially.
Discussions, such as these, on the topic are on the rise but with uncertain results. Unless and until these discussions provide concrete results in the space, there will be not much in terms of qualitative developments, it was concluded.