YouTube is a popular free video sharing web site which lets users upload,
view, and share video clips. Founded in February 2005 by three employees of
PayPal, the San Bruno-based service utilizes Adobe Flash technology to display
video. The wide variety of site content includes movie and TV clips and music
videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging. It is staffed by 67
employees. In October 2006, Google,
Inc., announced that it had reached a deal to acquire the company for $1.65
billion USD in Google's stock. The acquisition is expected to close in the
fourth quarter of 2006.
YouTube.com was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who were
all early employees of PayPal.
Prior to PayPal, Hurley studied design at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Chen and Karim studied computer science together at the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign. The
domain name "YouTube.com" was activated on February 15, 2005,
and the website was developed over the following months. The creators offered
the public a preview of the site in May 2005, and six months later, YouTube made
its official debut.
The company's humble beginnings in a garage and commitment to offering free
services necessitated outside financial backing. In November of 2005, venture
capital firm Sequoia Capital invested an initial $3.5 million;
additionally, Roelof Botha, partner of the firm and former CFO of PayPal, joined
the YouTube board of directors. In April 2006, Sequoia put an additional $8
million into the company, which had experienced a boom of popularity and growth
in just its first few months.
At present, YouTube is one of the fastest-growing websites on the World Wide
Web, and is ranked as
the 10th most popular website on Alexa, far outpacing even MySpace's growth.
According to a July 16, 2006 survey, 100 million clips are viewed daily on
YouTube, with an additional 65,000 new videos uploaded per 24 hours. The site
has almost 20 million visitors each month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings,
where around 44% are female, 56% male, and the 12- to 17-year-old age group is
Youtube's pre-eminence in the online video market is staggering. According to
the website Hitswise.com, Youtube commands up to 64% of the UK online video
On October 9, 2006, it was announced that the company will be purchased by
Google for US$1.65 billion in stock, which will be Google's biggest purchase to
date. The purchase agreement between Google and YouTube came after YouTube
presented three agreements with media companies in an attempt to escape the
threat of copyright-infringement lawsuits. YouTube will continue to operate
independently, and the company's 67 employees and its co-founders will continue
working within the company.
Word spreads and traditional media take notice
In its short time on the web, YouTube has grown quickly and received much
attention. Online word-of-mouth has been primarily responsible for YouTube's
growth since its inception, and gave the site its first surge of publicity when
it hosted the popular Saturday Night Live short Lazy Sunday.
However, YouTube's official policy prohibits submission of copyrighted material,
and NBC Universal, owners of SNL, soon decided to take action.
In February 2006, NBC asked for the removal of some of its copyrighted
content from YouTube, including Lazy Sunday and 2006 Olympics clips.
The following month, in an attempt to strengthen its policy against copyright
infringement, YouTube set a 10-minute maximum limit on video length (except for
content submitted via its Director Program, which specifically hosts original
material by amateur filmmakers). However, the real cutoff is 10:58. This
restriction is often circumvented by uploaders, who instead split their original
video into smaller segments, each shorter than the 10-minute limit.
Though YouTube had done its part to comply with NBC's demands, the incident
made the news, giving YouTube its most prominent publicity yet. As the site
continued to grow, NBC began to realize the possibilities, and in June 2006 made
an unusual move. The network had reconsidered its actions and was announcing a
strategic partnership with YouTube. Under the terms of the partnership, an
official NBC channel will be set up on YouTube, showcasing promotional clips for
the series The Office. YouTube will also promote NBC's videos throughout
CBS, which had previously also asked YouTube to remove several of its clips,
followed suit in July 2006. In a statement indicative of how the traditional
media industry's perception of YouTube (and similar sites) has changed, Sean
McManus, president of CBS News and Sports noted:
In August of 2006, YouTube announced that, within 18 months, it hopes to
offer every music video ever created, while still remaining free of charge.
Warner Music Group and EMI have confirmed that they are among the companies in
talks to implement this plan. In
September Warner Music and YouTube signed a deal, in which YouTube will be
allowed to host every music video Warner produced while sharing a portion of the
advertisement income. Additionally, user-created videos on YouTube will be
allowed to use Warner songs in their soundtracks.
On October 9, CBS, along with Universal Music Group and Sony BMG Music
Entertainment, also agreed to provide content to YouTube.
- On YouTube: Users may submit videos in several common-file formats
(such as .mpeg and .avi). YouTube automatically converts them to Flash Video
(with extension .flv) and makes them available for online viewing. Flash Video
is a popular video format among large hosting sites due to its wide
- Outside YouTube: Each video is accompanied by the full HTML markup
for linking to it and/or embedding it within another page; a small addition to
the markup for the latter will make the video autoplay when the page is
accessed. These simple cut-and-paste options are popular particularly with users
of social/networking sites. Poor experiences have however been cited by members
of such sites, where autoplaying
embedded YouTube videos has been reported to slow down page loading time or even
to cause browsers to crash.
- General Concerns: Videos can be downloaded off YouTube's website and
viewed offline with various video player applications; however, this may be a
violation of copyright.
- Download Quality: With the update to Flash G.U.I (Graphic User
Interface) file formats, YouTube has had problems with videos loading altogether
on the Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox web browsers. No news has been
given for when this will be repaired.
- index sites: Recently many sites had started to bloom while offering
an index service, which arrange the content on YouTube by relativity, ie links
arranged by order of seasons and episodes of a certain show.
Before being bought by Google, YouTube stated that its business model is
advertising-based. Some industry commentators have speculated that YouTube's
running costs — specifically the bandwidth required — may be as high as US$1
million per-month, thereby fuelling
criticisms that the company, like many internet start-ups, did not have a viably
implemented business model. Advertisements were launched on the site beginning
in March 2006. In April, YouTube started using Google AdSense. YouTube
subsequently stopped using AdSense. Given its traffic levels, video streams and
pageviews, some have calculated that YouTube's potential revenues could be in
the millions per month.
YouTube policy does not allow content to be uploaded by anyone not permitted
by United States copyright law to do so, and the company frequently removes
uploaded infringing content. Nonetheless, a large amount of it continues to be
uploaded. Generally, unless the copyright holder reports them, YouTube only
discovers these videos via indications within the YouTube community through
self-policing. The primary way in which YouTube identifies the content of a
video is through the search terms that uploaders associate with clips. Some
users have taken to creating alternative words as search terms to be entered
when uploading specific type of files (similar to the deliberate misspelling of
band names on MP3 filesharing networks). For a short time, members could also
report one another. The service offers a flagging feature, intended as a means
for reporting questionable content, including that which might constitute
copyright infringement. However, the feature can be susceptible to abuse; for a
time, some users were flagging other users' original content for copyright
violations, purely out of spite. YouTube proceeded to remove copyright
infringement from the list of offenses flaggable by members.
On October 5, 2006 the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and
Publishers (JASRAC) had their copyright complaints regarding Japanese media on
YouTube finalized. Thousands of media from popular Japanese artists (such as
Tokyo Jihen and various other music including Jpop) were removed.
When CBS and Universal Music Group signed agreements to provide content to
YouTube on October 9, they also announced that they would use new technology
that will help them find copyrighted material and remove it.
TV journalist Robert Tur filed the first lawsuit against the company in
summer 2006, alleging copyright infringement for hosting a number of famous news
clips without permission. The case has yet to be resolved.
Netbooks from Amazon.co.uk
Large Range Of NetBooks available. Small, light and inexpensive laptop computers suited for general computing and accessing web-based applications
Use of acoustic fingerprints
On October 12, 2006, YouTube announced that because of recent agreements with
high-profile content creators, they were now required to use anti-piracy
software. The software uses an audio-signature technology that can spot a
low-quality copy of a licensed music video or other content. YouTube would have
to substitute an approved version of the clip or take the material down
automatically. Analysts noted removal of content based on such a system might
negatively impact user satisfaction.
On their 6:30 PM bulletin on June 1, 2006, ITV News in the UK reported that
YouTube and sites like it were encouraging violence and bullying amongst
teenagers, who were filming fights on their mobile phones (see happy slapping),
and then uploading them to YouTube. While the site provides a function for
reporting excessively violent videos, the news report stated that communication
with the company was difficult.
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
In September 2006, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) began
running anti-drug PSAs through the YouTube System.
In response, many YouTube users began uploading rebuttals and rating the public
service announcements down. Since mid-September, the ONDCP has removed the
ability to rate or comment on any of their PSAs as a result.
New York Times reports anti-U.S. videos
On October 5th, 2006, the New York Times reported on the proliferation of
what they considered to be anti-U.S. videos on YouTube.
Zucker political ad
On October 10th, 2006, YouTube users flagged the political ad of noted
producer, and former long-time Democrat, David Zucker as being inappropriate for
viewers under 18.
 The ad criticized the Clinton
administration and the Democratic Party as weak in protecting national security.
Some questioned YouTube's flag--normally used to indicate material that is
inappropriate for viewers under 18--though Zucker's ad contains nothing profane
or pornographic. The GOP decided not to use Zucker's ad in the 2006 campaign,
because it was considered "over the top."
On October 12th, YouTube removed the age-verification page and no longer
censored the video for viewers under 18.
Criticism of Islam
Several users have complained that YouTube's administration has censored
their videos that were critical of Islam.
Domain name problem
YouTube's immense success has unintentionally reduced business for an American
company, Universal Tube and Rollerform Equipment Corp., whose website,
http://www.utube.com, has frequently been shut down by extremely high numbers of
visitors unsure about the spelling of YouTube's domain name.
At the beginning of November 2006, Universal Tube filed suit in federal court
YouTube's popularity has led to the creation of many YouTube Internet
celebrities, popular individuals who have attracted significant publicity in
their home countries from their videos.
These memes have come from many different backgrounds. The most subscribed
YouTube member, as of August 16, 2006, is Geriatric1927, a 79-year-old pensioner
from England who gained widespread recognition within a week of making his debut
on the site. For these
users, the internet fame has had various unexpected effects. By way of example,
YouTube user and former receptionist Brooke Brodack from Massachusetts has been
signed by NBC's Carson Daly for an 18-month development contract.
On the other hand, Australian user Emmalina's fame led to her computer being
hacked and private information stolen from her computer, forcing her to remove
her videos from YouTube. Most
significant has been the uncovered fictional blog lonelygirl15, now discovered
to be the work of New Zealand actress Jessica Rose and some film directors.
Youtube has also become a means of promoting bands and their music. One such
example is the Sick Puppies, who became famous after their music was in a
popular Youtube Video, called the Free Hugs Campaign.
As of Google's acquisition of Youtube, the Youtube logo has changed slightly
by having added shading. The font of the slogan has changed as well.