Will Ferrell's "Funny or Die" Will Make Money on YouTube; No Illicit Uploaders Need Apply

Last Updated Nov 6, 2009 12:31 PM EST

So now I know why YouTube was pimping Will Ferrell's "Funny or Die" when I stopped by the other day -- the comedy site has just become a full-blown YouTube "partner", which, strangely, Ferrell and partner Adam McKay claim will give them "no financial gain." (It's Friday -- you are permitted to watch the above comedy clip about the deal, but the part with Matt Damon gets a little NSFW.)

I doubt it. Actually, this will obviously heighten distribution of the site's content, and along with it, help "Funny or Die" sell advertising, particularly -- as Ad Age's Ken Wheaton points out -- because YouTube is now letting content producers sell their own ads within the YouTube environment. Even in their somewhat sheltered environment at funnyordie.com, the numbers for some of the videos are pretty phenomenal: more than 67 million for the exploitative "The Landlord," with many others ranging in the low millions. Some specific content may not be advertiser-friendly, but much of it will be.

But the deal is also happening for another reason, which you won't see Ferrell and McKay talk about in the above video. It looks like "Funny or Die"'s way of making peace with the copyright gods. We may like to think our cutting-edge comedians would have a lax attitude toward illicitly uploaded YouTube videos, but not, at least, in this case. I just spent five minutes looking for a copy of "The Landlord" on YouTube and every uploaded copy I could fine had been taken down. Apparently this war has been raging for quite some time.

Going forward, we'll probably see more deals like this. It takes care of copyrights, revenue and traffic in one fell swoop for professional content companies that don't, necessarily, have a home on other video sites, such as Hulu.

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