It’s important to look at the root cause of why so many classic shorts are appearing online in the first place. It’s because they aren’t available anywhere else for legal purchase. If these cartoons were available for purchase on dvd or available for download online, there’s no way that anybody in their right mind could justify these lo-res versions that are appearing on YouTube. Disney, for example, has been doing a commendable job of releasing their animation library onto dvd, in their Treasures collections, and relatively few of those cartoons show up on video hosting/sharing sites. Disney has also taken another positive step forward by releasing individual shorts onto iTunes. Other media conglomerates, however, neither care about nor respect the classic animation in their vaults, and corrupt “copyright protection” laws have allowed these companies to withhold the cartoons from the public for far too long.
There’s plenty more to be said about this topic, and nobody is saying it more eloquently than animation director Mark Mayerson. He wrote an excellent article on his blog yesterday that I highly recommend checking out. He even offers a novel solution for how YouTube can address the issue of copyright, and please both the studios and fans. The bottom line though is that until studios start listening to consumers and make these classic cartoons widely available, they can expect the shorts to appear over and over on the multitude of video hosting sites now available to the public.