It was a news story that went under the radar in many parts of the word, but on Monday it was reported that a 55 second YouTube video had been sold $760,999. Whilst the video is an opportunist, amateur production, the amount it has been sold for is almost Hollywood value. I am sure many of us will have seen the video in question, simply known as Charlie bit my finger but perhaps we may not in the future, depending on the motivations of the new owner.
The sale came after the video was listed on the website charliebitme.com with the simple explanation of “Bid to own the soon-to-be-deleted YouTube phenomenon, Charlie Bit My Finger, leaving you as the sole owner of this lovable piece of internet history”. The auction ran for just over 24 hours, with the opening bid being $99,999, with 11 active bidders then driving the price up to $760,999, the winning bid by “3fmusic”. The video is still available to watch on YouTube, with the message “Waiting on NFT decision”. What happens next is a mystery.
The video was posted 14 years ago and has since racked up nearly 885 million views – it is a huge investment in a relatively new way of owning digital media. Whilst there could be opportunities to monetise it in some way to get a return on investment through advertising on digital platforms such as YouTube, it would take some time to recover that on a video, which whilst is a piece of Internet history, is over 14 years old. Of course, this could be a shrewd investment, based on the fact there is only one authentic copy of the video which could appreciate in value over time.
On the other hand there is almost certainly copies/downloads of the video elsewhere on the Internet or on peoples digital devices. There are numerous programmes that allow users to download YouTube videos – NFT prices/values are driven in part by scarcity of the digital media, so whilst there will be one owner of the original, others will be able to still watch the same video on other platforms. That is a form of digital piracy but it becomes incredibly hard to constantly monitor the internet for websites that may be hosting the file.
The market of and for NFTs continues to evolve. There have been some interesting developments within the music industry of artists looking to release their material as NFTs, with digital archives of who owns the music being recorded within a specific blockchain, but this particular purchase could be a compelling event for the sale of digital media. Content creators could potentially sell their work as single, authenticated items rather than syndicate content.
Now, where did I put those videos I sent to You’ve Been Framed twenty years ago?