The Financial Times says Google paid $1.65 billion for YouTube and now finds itself desperately trying to make deals with any and all media companies to keep their bits and pieces of TV shows/videos/etc available to its users. It's a shame Google -- which has done a good and interesting job in pushing the law forward into the 21st Century on Internet issues -- doesn't fight more about "fair use." I think a good chunk of these clips would qualify. Is a two minute segment from a news show like "This Week" fair use? Once the show has aired, it has ZERO value to ABC and the constant repeating of their clip even reinforces the idea that viewers should tune in to ABC for juicy interviews. There is no repeat value, no syndication value, no DVD value in any of it. These clips -- other than being seen on other newscasts for a day or two (without payment, mind you) -- were gone forever. Now they're being kept alive by YouTube. I'd argue the same for Letterman, though the longer the clip the less of a claim you have. And he has been seen in synidcation (though I think that might have ended). Similarly, "The Daily Show" is repeated ad nauseum a day or two after it airs and he has sold DVDs. It's all very confusing...and well worth exploring legally.
One stupid aspect of the article claims that YouTube "and similar websites could become the dominant means of distributing television, films and other video content to consumers." YouTube is not in competition with iTunes and its legal downloads of complete TV episodes and movies nor is it designed to move into that area. Commercialization of it from a "Talk Soup" like collection of scraps to your local video store would kill it.