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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


YouTube is a popular free video sharing website which lets users upload, view, and share video clips. Videos can be rated, and the average rating and the number of times a video has been watched are both published.

Founded in February 2005 by three former 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 videoblogging and short original videos. Currently staffed by 67 employees,[1] the company was named TIME magazine's "Invention of the Year" for 2006.[2] In October 2006, Google Inc. announced that it had reached a deal to acquire the company for US$1.65 billion in Google's stock. The deal closed on 13 November 2006.[3]


YouTube's current headquarters in San Bruno
YouTube's current headquarters in San Bruno
YouTube's early headquarters in San Mateo
YouTube's early headquarters in San Mateo

YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal.[4] 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.[5] The domain name "" was activated on February 15, 2005,[6] 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.

Like many technology start-ups, YouTube was started as an angel-funded enterprise in a small and inexpensive office or garage. In November of 2005, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital invested an initial $3.5 million;[7] 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.[8]

During the summer of 2006, YouTube was one of the fastest-growing websites on the World Wide Web,[9] and was ranked as the 5th most popular website on Alexa, far outpacing even MySpace's growth.[10] 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,[11] where around 44% are female, 56% male, and the 12- to 17-year-old age group is dominant.[12] YouTube's pre-eminence in the online video market is staggering. According to the website, YouTube commands up to 64% of the UK online video market.[13]

Wikinews has news related to:
Google purchases YouTube for $1.65 billion

On October 9, 2006, it was announced that the company would be purchased by Google for US$1.65 billion in stock. 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.[14] The deal to acquire YouTube closed on November 13. It is Google's biggest purchase to date.[15]

Media recognition Screenshot Screenshot
A screenshot of a profile.
A screenshot of a profile.

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.[16] 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.[7][17] 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 was set up on YouTube, showcasing promotional clips for the series The Office. YouTube will also promote NBC's videos throughout its site.[18]

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.[20] 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.[21]

On October 9, CBS, along with Universal Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, also agreed to provide content to YouTube.[22]

On January 29, 2007, the co-founder of YouTube, Chad Hurley, announced that the on-line video service will pay its active users, who should also be true copyright owners, a part of the website's revenue gained from advertising. However, at the World Economic Forum, Mr. Hurley did not mention a concrete amount of money that YouTube will pay its contributors.[23]

Press Coverage

Time Magazine featured a YouTube screen with a foil mirror as its annual Person of the Year citing user created media such as YouTube, and featuring its creators and several content creators. The Wall Street Journal and New York Times have also reviewed content posted on YouTube, and its effects on recruiting and corporate communications in 2006. PC World Magazine has also named YouTube as the 9th of the Top 10 Best Products of 2006.[24] Because of its acquisition by Google, it is sometimes referred to as "GooTube."[25]

Revenue model

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,[26] 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.[27]

Recent events

Copyright infringement

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.

Hollywood remains divided on YouTube, as "'[t]he marketing guys love YouTube and the legal guys hate it.'"[28] Further,

Content owners are not just targeting YouTube for copyright infringements on the site, but they are also targeting third party websites that link to infringing content on YouTube and other video sharing sites. For example QuickSilverScreen vs. Fox[29] Daily Episodes vs. Fox[30] and Columbia vs. Slashfilm.[31] The liability of linking remains a grey area with cases for and against. The law in the US currently leans towards website owners being liable for infringing links[32] although they are often protected by the DMCA providing they take down infringing content when issued with a takedown notice. However, a recent court ruling in the US found Google not to be liable for linking to infringing content (Perfect 10 v. Google, Inc.).

Examples of infringement complaints

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.[22]

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.[33][34]

On November 9, 2006 Artie Lange said his lawyer was in talks with YouTube, after finding his entire DVD, It's the Whiskey Talking, available for free on their site. Artie said he will either demand money from them, or else he will sue.[35]

On February 2, 2007, Viacom demanded YouTube to take down more than 100,000 videos, all of which are held by MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.[36]

On February 14, 2007 The British Broadcasting Corporation demanded that YouTube take down more than 100,000 videos relating to its highly popular television show Top Gear.

Wikinews has news related to:
Viacom sues YouTube, owner Google, for more than 1 billion dollars

On March 13, 2007, Viacom announced it was suing YouTube, and its owner Google, for more than $1 billion in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Viacom claims that YouTube has over 160,000 of their videos on their website without their permission.[37][38]

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. This is frustrating for viewers who upload anime music videos, because most AMVs use licensed music content; however, often said music is acquired illegally as well.[39]


On June 1, 2006, the evening ITV News bulletin 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.[40]

White House National Drug Control involvement

In September 2006, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) began running anti-drug messages through the YouTube System.[41] 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 messages as a result.

New York Times reports anti-US videos

On October 5, 2006, The New York Times reported on the proliferation of what they considered to be anti-U.S. videos on YouTube.[42]


On December 3, 2006 Iran blocked YouTube and several other sites in an attempt to impede "corrupting" foreign films and music.[43] On February 16, 2007 the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Brigham Young University has blocked campus access to YouTube.[44] Australian NSW schools have blocked the site due to the New South Wales Department of Education and Training filtering system which most schools proxy through.

Banning in Turkey

YouTube was blocked in Turkey. "Accessing to this site is blocked with court order".
YouTube was blocked in Turkey. "Accessing to this site is blocked with court order".

Turkey blocked YouTube on March 6, 2007 for letting videos insulting Turks and Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, to be shown, in an escalation of what some call a "virtual war" between Greeks and Turks on YouTube, with people from each side posting videos to belittle and berate the other.[45] The video that caused banning alleged Turks and Atatürk to be homosexuals. The video was first mentioned on Turkish CNN and the Istanbul public prosecutor sued YouTube for insulting Turkishness.[46] The court suspended access to YouTube pending removal of the video. The ban was strongly criticized as censorship in the press and by the general public. YouTube lawyers sent documentary of removal to public prosecutor and access was restored on March 9, 2007.[47]

Banning in Thailand

As of the week of March 8th YouTube is blocked in Thailand.[48] As for now it is unclear as to the reasons why.

Brazilian model lawsuit and subsequent banning

YouTube is being sued by Brazilian model and MTV VJ Daniela Cicarelli (better known as Ronaldo's ex-fiancée) on the grounds that the site is making available a video footage made by a paparazzo, in which she and her boyfriend are having sex on a Spanish beach. The lawsuit requires that YouTube be blocked in Brazil until all copies of the video are removed. On Saturday, January 6, 2007, a legal injunction ordered that filters be put in place to prevent users in Brazil from accessing the website.[49][50]

The effectiveness of the measure has been questioned, since the video is not available only on YouTube, but rather has become an internet phenomenon. On Tuesday, January 9, 2007, a higher court overturned the original decision, ordering the filters removed, although the footage itself remained forbidden, but without technical support for its blockage.[51]

Domain name problem

YouTube's immense success has unintentionally affected the business for an American company, Universal Tube and Rollerform Equipment Corp., whose website,, has frequently been shut down by extremely high numbers of visitors unsure about the spelling of YouTube's domain name.[52] At the beginning of November 2006, Universal Tube filed suit in federal court against YouTube.[53]

Utube, based out of Perrysburg, Ohio, has requested as part of their suit that the domain be transferred to them.[54]

Social impact

Internet celebrities

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.[55] The most subscribed YouTube member, as of August 16, 2006, is Geriatric1927, a 80-year-old pensioner from England who gained widespread recognition within a week of making his debut on the site.[56] 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.[57] Another has been the uncovered fictional blog of lonelygirl15, now discovered to be the work of New Zealand actress Jessica Rose and some film directors. In 2007, a Dutch vocalist and songwriter named Esmée Denters was signed to a recording contract by Billy Mann based on her YouTube appearances.[58][59]

Band and music promotion

YouTube has also become a means of promoting bands and their music. One such example is OK Go which got a huge radio hit and an MTV Video Music Awards performance out of the treadmill video for Here It Goes Again.[60][61] In the same light, a video broadcasting the Free Hugs Campaign with accompanying music by the Sick Puppies led to instant fame for both the band and the campaign, with more campaigns taking place in different parts of the world. The main character of the video, Juan Mann has also achieved fame, being interviewed on Australian news programs, even appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show.[62]

Fame beyond YouTube

A number of figures have grown to prominence and become Internet phenomena on the basis of their appearance in YouTube videos. These include:

Brooke Brodack is considered the first person to move from Youtube to mainstream media, when she signed an 18-month development deal with Carson Daly's production company.[63]In January, 2007, it was announced that Lisa Donovan, a.k.a. LisaNova, was going to appear as a cast member during the 12th season of Fox's sketch comedy show MADtv.[64]

Technical notes

Video format

YouTube's video playback technology is based on Macromedia's FlashPlayer 7 and uses the Sorenson Spark H.263 video codec. This technology allows YouTube to display videos with quality comparable to more established video playback technologies (such as Windows Media Player, Realplayer or Apple's Quicktime Player) that generally require the user to download and install a web browser plugin in order to watch video. Flash itself requires a plug-in, but the Flash 7 plug-in is generally considered to be present on approximately 90% of Internet-connected computers.[65] Alternatively, users can use a number of websites to download the videos to their own computers.

YouTube converts videos into .FLV (Adobe Flash Video) format after uploading.[66] These can be played with VLC media player. The extension is then stripped from the file (Extension can be found again with TrID). The different files are stored in obscurely named subdomains, to make ripping the videos difficult.

YouTube officially accepts uploaded videos in WMV, AVI, MOV and MPEG formats.[67]

Content accessibility

  • On YouTube: Users may submit videos in several common-file formats (such as .mpeg and .avi). YouTube automatically converts them to the H.263 variant of 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 compatibility.
  • 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,[68] where autoplaying embedded YouTube videos has been reported to slow down page loading time or even to cause browsers to crash.
  • Downloading videos: YouTube itself does not make it easy to download and save videos for offline viewing or editing, but several third-party web sites (e.g SaveTube ) applications, browser extensions (e.g. the UnPlug or VideoDownloader Firefox extensions or Free YouTube Converter) and web sites exist for that purpose. Alternatively, most flv files can be copied from Temporary Internet Files (in Windows) to a permanent folder.
  • Viewing deleted videos: YouTube videos which are flagged as deleted are not necessarily deleted physically. It is possible to recover and download these videos by using web applications such as the Deleted YouTube Video Viewer.
  • Index sites: Websites are available that offer an index service and arrange the content on YouTube by relativity, i.e. links arranged by order of seasons and episodes of a certain show. Examples include TVLinks, NetworkOne Australia, and WikiRemote.

See also

  • Alternative media
  • User-generated content
  • Comparison of video services
  • Viral video
  • List of Internet phenomena
  • Videosift


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