YouTube

YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. YouTube was created in February 2005 by three former PayPal employees. The San Bruno-based service uses Adobe Flash Video technology to display a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips and music videos, as well as amateur content such as videoblogging and short original videos. In October 2006, Google Inc. announced that it had reached a deal to acquire the company for US$1.65 billion in Google stock. The deal closed on November 13, 2006.

Unregistered users can watch most videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos. Some videos are available only to users of age 18 or older (e.g. videos containing potentially offensive content). The uploading of videos containing pornography, nudity, defamation, harassment, commercial advertisements and material encouraging criminal conduct is prohibited. Related videos, determined by title and tags, appear onscreen to the right of a given video. In YouTube's second year, functions were added to enhance user ability to post video 'responses' and subscribe to content feeds.

Few statistics are publicly available regarding the number of videos on YouTube. However, in July 2006, the company revealed that more than 100 million videos were being watched every day, and 2.5 billion videos were watched in June 2006. 50,000 videos were being added per day in May 2006, and this increased to 65,000 by July. In January 2008 alone, nearly 79 million users had made over 3 billion video views.

In August 2006, The Wall Street Journal published an article revealing that YouTube was hosting about 6.1 million videos (requiring about 45 terabytes of storage space), and had about 500,000 user accounts. As of April 9, 2008, a YouTube search returns about 83.4 million videos and 3.75 million user channels. It is estimated that in 2007, YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000, and that around 13 hours of video are uploaded every minute. In March 2008, its bandwidth costs were estimated at approximately $1 million a day.

As of Q1 2008, YouTube was not profitable, with its revenues in 2007 being noted as "not material" by Google in a regulatory filing. Exact revenue or profit numbers are not published, but a June 2008 Forbes magazine article projected the 2008 revenue at $200 million, noting progress in ad sales. At that time, the price for an ad on the YouTube home page was $175,000 per day (plus a $50,000 commitment to buy Google/YouTube ads elsewhere), and a branded channel (distinguished by a customized background) cost advertisers $200,000.

History

YouTube 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 subsequent months. The creators offered the public a preview of the site in May 2005, six months before making its official debut.

Social impact

Before the launch of YouTube in 2005, there were few simple methods available for ordinary computer users who wanted to post videos online. With its easy to use interface, YouTube made it possible for anyone who could use a computer to post a video that millions of people could watch within a few minutes. The wide range of topics covered by YouTube has turned video sharing into one of the most important parts of Internet culture.

An early example of the social impact of YouTube was the success of the Bus Uncle video in 2006. It shows an animated conversation between a youth and an older man on a bus in Hong Kong, and was discussed widely in the mainstream media. Another YouTube video to receive extensive coverage is guitar, which features a performance of Pachelbel's Canon on an electric guitar. The name of the performer is not given in the video, and after it received millions of views the New York Times revealed the identity of the guitarist as Jeong-Hyun Lim, a 23-year-old from South Korea who had recorded the track in his bedroom.

Domain name problem

YouTube's success inadvertently affected the business of Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, whose original website address, utube.com, was at one time frequently overloaded and shut down by 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 against YouTube, requesting that the youtube.com domain be transferred to them. As of June 2008, the web address utube.com is showing a simple placeholder page, while Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment has moved to utubeonline.com According to a WHOIS domain name search, Universal Tube still owns the domain http://www.utube.com.

Criticism

YouTube has been criticized frequently for failing to ensure that its online content adheres to the law of copyright. At the time of uploading a video, YouTube users are shown a screen with the following message:

Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts or commercials without permission unless they consist entirely of content you created yourself. The Copyright Tips page and the Community Guidelines can help you determine whether your video infringes someone else's copyright.
Despite this advice, there are still many unauthorized clips from television shows, films and music videos on YouTube. YouTube does not view videos before they are posted online, and it is left to copyright holders to issue a takedown notice under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Organizations including Viacom and the English Premier League have issued lawsuits against YouTube, claiming that it has done too little to prevent the uploading of copyrighted material. Viacom, demanding $1 billion in damages, said that it had found more than 150,000 unauthorized clips of its material on YouTube that had been viewed "an astounding 1.5 billion times". YouTube responded by stating that it "goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works". Since Viacom issued its lawsuit, YouTube has introduced a system that checks uploaded videos against a database of known copyrighted content as a means of reducing violations.

In July 2008, Viacom won a court ruling requiring YouTube to hand over data detailing the viewing habits of every user who has watched videos on the site. The move led to concerns that the viewing habits of individual users could be identified through a combination of their IP addresses and login names. The decision was criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called the court ruling "a set-back to privacy rights". U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton dismissed the privacy concerns as "speculative", and ordered YouTube to hand over documents totalling around 12 terabytes of data. Judge Stanton rejected Viacom's request for YouTube to hand over the source code of its search engine system, saying that there was no evidence that YouTube treated videos infringing copyright differently.

In August 2008, a U.S. court ruled that copyright holders cannot order the removal of an online file without first determining whether the posting reflected "fair use" of the material. The case involved Stephanie Lenz from Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, who had made a home video of her 13-month-old son dancing to Prince's song "Let's Go Crazy" and posted the 29-second video on YouTube.

YouTube has also faced criticism over the offensive content in some of its videos. Although YouTube's terms of service forbid the uploading of material likely to be considered inappropriate or defamatory, the inability to check all videos before they go online means that occasional lapses are inevitable. Controversial areas for videos have included Holocaust denial and the Hillsborough Disaster, in which 96 football fans from Liverpool were crushed to death in 1989.

YouTube relies on its users to flag the content of videos as inappropriate, and a member of staff will view a flagged video to determine whether it violates the site's terms of service. In July 2008 the Culture and Media Committee of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom stated that it was "unimpressed" with YouTube's system for policing its videos, and argued that "Proactive review of content should be standard practice for sites hosting user generated content." YouTube responded by stating: "We have strict rules on what's allowed, and a system that enables anyone who sees inappropriate content to report it to our 24/7 review team and have it dealt with promptly. We educate our community on the rules and include a direct link from every YouTube page to make this process as easy as possible for our users. Given the volume of content uploaded on our site, we think this is by far the most effective way to make sure that the tiny minority of videos that break the rules come down quickly."

Blocking

YouTube has been blocked in several countries since its inception, including Tunisia, Thailand (which has since been lifted) and Iran. Certain video pages were banned as of October 1, 2007 in Turkey, but this was lifted two days later. More recently on January 22, 2008 Turkey banned YouTube once again but this ban was lifted after three days. YouTube was blocked in Turkey between May and August 2008 after controversy over videos deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk . Certain pages are also banned in United Arab Emirates.

On February 23, 2008, Pakistan blocked YouTube due to "offensive material" towards the Islamic faith, including the display of pictures of the prophet Muhammad. This action by the Pakistani authorities led to a near global blackout of the YouTube site for at least two hours. Thousands of Pakistanis undermined the 3-day block using VPN software called Hotspot Shield. The YouTube ban was lifted on February 26, 2008 after the "offensive material" were removed from the site.

YouTube has been subject to threats of censorship by various countries because of the content it hosts. It was blocked from Mainland China from the October 18, due to the censorship of the Taiwanese flag. URLs to YouTube were redirected to Mainland China's own search engine, Baidu. It was subsequently unblocked on October 31.

Schools in certain countries have begun to block access to YouTube due to students uploading videos of bullying behavior, school fights, racist behavior, and other inappropriate content as well as the increased bandwidth usage.

Spamming

With recent improvements to e-mail spam filtering technology and their wider use, spammers have begun using YouTube as way to advertise: popular videos frequently have comments with links to irrelevant external sites, usually with some enticing statements (such as "Great video, go to for the full version"). To counter this, YouTube has blocked comments with URLs in them since late 2006; if a user tries to post a comment with a URL, it will be discarded and will not show up. As of August 2007, this "feature" seems to have been extended to profile comments as well, although the user will receive an ambiguous "error processing your comment" message. However, posting links is still possible in bulletins, private messages, or group discussions. Also, if a user posts many comments in a short period, they may be asked to complete a CAPTCHA, which was implemented when a notorious spammer abused the lack of a flood control. However, the lack of a CAPTCHA is still present in some areas of the site. Other examples of spammers include users who use non-related-to-video threats (including "Post this message to friends or your mom will die in hours"). They may also send messages to a user's inbox (essentially in the form of a plain-text spam email). Some of these spam accounts also posted pornographic videos on YouTube. A slightly newer feature of YouTube is the ability to send invites to people through email by using the "Invite Your Friends" feature. This feature's intention was to build a bigger community on YouTube. When spammers became aware of this, they abused this feature to generate more spam.

Technical notes

Video format

YouTube's video playback technology is based on Macromedia's Flash Player. This technology allows the site to display videos with quality comparable to more established video playback technologies (such as Windows Media Player, QuickTime and RealPlayer) that generally require the user to download and install a web browser plugin in order to view video. Flash also requires a plug-in, but Adobe considers the Flash 7 plug-in to be present on about 90% of online computers. Users can view videos in windowed mode or full screen mode and it is possible to switch modes during playback without reloading it due to the full-screen function of Adobe Flash Player 9. The video can also be played back with third-party media players such as GOM Player, gnash, VLC as well as some ffmpeg-based video players.

Videos uploaded to YouTube are limited to ten minutes in length, and a file size of 1GB. One video at a time can be uploaded through the standard interface, and multiple videos can be uploaded with a Windows based plugin. YouTube converts videos into the Flash Video format after uploading. YouTube also converts content to other formats so that it can be viewed outside of the website (see below).

YouTube accepts videos uploaded in most formats, including .WMV, .AVI, .MOV, MPEG, .MP4, DivX, .FLV and .OGG. It also supports 3GP, allowing videos to be uploaded directly from a mobile phone.

Standard and high quality videos

A standard quality YouTube video has a picture 320 pixels wide by 240 pixels high and uses the Sorenson Spark H.263 video codec. The bit rate of the video signal is around 314 kbit/s with a frame rate dependent on the uploaded video.

In March 2008, YouTube launched a feature which allowed some of its videos to be viewed in 'High Quality' format. This format offers the possibility of better video definition (480x360 pixels instead of the standard 320x240 pixels) for any video uploaded after this date. YouTube decides which videos are capable of this improved quality based on the standard of the original upload. Users can choose "always show me higher quality when available" on their video quality settings page in their account pages to switch automatically to the better quality.

YouTube's high quality videos are available in two versions, both of which have a maximum picture size of 480 x 360 pixels. By adding &fmt=6 to the web address of a video, it is played using the H.263 codec with mono sound, and by adding &fmt=18, it is played using the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec with stereo AAC sound.

When asked why YouTube did not choose HD format, the site answered: "Our general philosophy is to make sure that as many people as possible can access YouTube and that videos start quickly and play smoothly. That's one reason why you don't see us racing to call this "Super Duper YouTube HD," because most people don't want to wait a long time for videos to play.

Audio format

Standard quality YouTube videos contain an MP3 audio stream. By default, it is encoded in mono at a bit rate of 64 kbit/s sampled at 22050 Hz, giving an audio bandwidth of around 10 kHz. The default bit rate delivers passable but not hi-fi audio quality. It is possible for a standard quality YouTube video to have a stereo audio track if the movie file is converted to FLV format prior to upload. This can be done with programs, such as ffmpeg for Linux and Windows, ffmpegX for Macintosh or the commercial Riva FLV Encoder for Windows.

Content accessibility

On YouTube

YouTube accepts common video file formats and converts them to Flash Video in order to make them available for online viewing. Since June 2007, newly uploaded videos have also been encoded using the H.264 video standard to enable streaming of YouTube videos on devices that support H.264 streaming.

Outside YouTube

Each YouTube video is accompanied by a piece of HTML markup which can be used to link to the video or embed it on a page outside the YouTube website, unless the submitter of a video chooses to disable the feature. A small addition to the markup allows the video to play automatically when the webpage loads. These options are especially popular with users of social networking sites. YouTube videos can also be accessed via a gadget which is available for the iGoogle homepage.

YouTube videos are designed to be viewed while connected to the Internet, and no official feature allows for them to be downloaded and viewed offline. However, a number of third-party web sites, applications, including Free Download Manager and browser extensions, such as Firefox extensions, exist for this purpose. Alternatively, when using Internet Explorer, .flv files can be copied from the 'Temporary Internet Files' folder in Windows, or the /tmp directory in GNU systems, to a permanent folder. The .flv files can then be viewed and edited directly or converted to other formats using various applications such as VLC media player.

On mobile

YouTube launched its mobile site, YouTube Mobile on June 15, 2007. It is based on xHTML and uses 3GP videos with H.263/AMR codec and RTSP streaming. It is available via a web interface at m.youtube.com or via YouTube's Mobile Java Application.

On TV

The YouTube TV Channel is on Information TV 2, and it started January 7, 2008. The channel is airing video sharing content from the YouTube website.

On Apple TV, iPhone and iPod touch

Apple Inc. announced on June 20, 2007 that YouTube is accessible on the Apple TV after installation of a free software update. Functionality includes browsing by category, searching videos, and the ability for members to log onto their YouTube accounts directly on Apple TV. Access to thousands of the most current and popular YouTube videos are available, and there were plans to add thousands more videos each week. The entire catalog was targeted to be available in fall 2007. According to Apple VP David Moody, the reason for the delay was the need for all current YouTube content to be transcoded to Apple's preferred video standard, H.264.

Apple announced Wednesday, June 20, 2007 that YouTube would be available on the iPhone at launch. Streaming is over Wi-Fi or EDGE.

Videos on YouTube for the iPhone are encoded in Apple's preferred H.264 format. All videos are viewed in the horizontal orientation of the phone. As YouTube videos have 4:3 aspect ratio and the iPhone is 3:2, videos must be viewed with black bars on the side (pillarboxed) or may be zoomed to trim some of the top and bottom to fill the screen.

Not all videos were available on iPhone initially because not every video was reencoded to H.264. There are two versions of each video on YouTube, one is higher bandwidth for Wi-Fi use, and one is lower resolution for EDGE or 3G use.

Unlike the Apple TV version, users cannot log in to their own YouTube accounts, but can create a separate favorites list just for the iPhone.

Annotations

In June 2008, YouTube launched a beta test of Annotations, which can display notes or links within a video. Annotations allow for information to be added, for example stories with multiple possibilities (viewers click to choose the next scene), and links to other YouTube videos. Initially, annotations would not appear on videos embedded outside the YouTube website, but as of August 2008, it is now available on embedded movies.

Localization

On June 19, 2007, Eric E. Schmidt was in Paris to launch the new localization system. The entire interface of the website is now available with localized versions in numerous countries:

Country URL Language Launch date
http://au.youtube.com/ English (Australia)
http://br.youtube.com/ Portuguese (Brazil)
http://ca.youtube.com/ English (Canada)
http://fr.youtube.com/ French
http://de.youtube.com/ German
http://hk.youtube.com/ Chinese (Traditional)
http://il.youtube.com/ English
http://in.youtube.com/ English (India)
http://ie.youtube.com/ English (Ireland)
http://it.youtube.com/ Italian
http://jp.youtube.com/ Japanese
http://kr.youtube.com/ Korean
http://mx.youtube.com/ Spanish (Mexico)
http://nl.youtube.com/ Dutch
http://nz.youtube.com/ English (New Zealand)
http://pl.youtube.com/ Polish
http://ru.youtube.com/ Russian
http://es.youtube.com/ Spanish
http://tw.youtube.com/ Chinese (Traditional)
http://uk.youtube.com/ English (United Kingdom)
Google aims to compete with video-sharing websites like DailyMotion in France. It also made an agreement with local television stations like M6 and France Télévisions to legally broadcast video content.

On October 17, 2007 it was announced that a Hong Kong version had been launched. YouTube's Steve Chen said its next target will be Taiwan.

On October 22, 2007 YouTube New Zealand had its launch party, stating that its aim was to help create YouTube celebrities within New Zealand. This was quickly evident with the rise of such New Zealand YouTube shows as Three Best Friends That Live Together and LiveFromJoes.

Plans for YouTube to create a local version in Turkey have run into problems, since the Turkish authorities asked YouTube to set up an office in Turkey, which would be subject to Turkish law. YouTube says that it has no intention of doing this, and that its videos are not subject to Turkish law. Turkish authorities have expressed concerns that YouTube has been used to post videos insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and other material offensive to Muslims.

Channel type

Members of YouTube.com are offered to be a part of groups called "Channel Types" that make their channel more distinctive. At one time, when a person signed up for a Director account setting, he or she was offered to have unlimited video length, but that is no longer offered, although the users who joined the "Director" group during that time still have that unlimited video length setting. At that time, they were still also limited to 100MB in video size, but now these accounts are limited to 1GB. The types are:

  • YouTuber, a general viewer of YouTube.
  • Director, movie makers displaying their videos for YouTube viewers.
  • Musician, musicians or bands covering songs or displaying originals or giving lessons on songs, scales, chords, etc.
  • Comedian, comedians displaying their comedy bits for YouTube viewers.
  • Guru, people who are experienced in a certain field make videos of what they do.
  • Non-profit, a status obtained by 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations accepted into YouTube's non-profit program.
  • Reporter, civilians or professionals who make videos about local or international news and current events.

Video rankings

YouTube awards videos with honors, the most popular of which is "most viewed which are divided into four categories: today, this week, this month and all time. Honors include:

Controversies over video rankings

The viewing figures of some YouTube videos have been the subject of controversy, since there have been claims that automated systems have been used to inflate the amount of views received, which is forbidden by YouTube's terms of service. In March 2008, an unofficial video of the song "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex" by the Brazilian band Cansei De Ser Sexy briefly held the number one slot for the all-time most viewed video, with around 114 million views. It was temporarily removed from YouTube after allegations of automated viewing or hacking, before being deleted by the uploader. A spokesperson for YouTube commented: "We are developing safeguards to secure the statistics on YouTube. Although it is somewhat difficult to track how often this happens, it is not rampant. As soon as it comes to our attention that someone has rigged their numbers to gain placement on the top pages we remove the video or channel from public view." Clarus Bartel from Italy, who had uploaded the video, denied attempting to boost its ranking, stating: "These gimmicks do not belong to me. I've got nothing to do with it. The accusations geared towards me have saddened me greatly."

The YouTube video of the Avril Lavigne song "Girlfriend" has also been accused of having an exaggerated number of views due to the use of a link with an auto-refresh mechanism posted by AvrilBandAids, a fansite devoted to Avril Lavigne. Clicking on the link will automatically reload the YouTube video of Girlfriend every fifteen seconds. Fans of Avril Lavigne are encouraged to: "Keep this page open while you browse the internet, study for exams, or even sleep. For extra viewing power, open up two or more browser windows at this page!" The video of Girlfriend overtook Evolution of Dance by Judson Laipply as the all-time most viewed video on YouTube in July 2008. As of October 2008, Girlfriend has around 104 million views, whilst Evolution of Dance has around 100 million.

A YouTube video featuring the anime franchise Evangelion has a view count of around 98 million (as of October 2008), but has been barred from the YouTube charts due to automated viewing.

YouTube Video Awards

In 2006, YouTube presented the annual YouTube Video Awards. Categories include "'most adorable video ever" and "most creative." YouTube nominates the contenders, and users decide the winners. Only original, user created videos are nominated. Nominees for the 2006 awards included Peter Oakley (geriatric1927), LonelyGirl15, thewinekone, Renetto, Nezzomic, and Chad Vader.

Recent events

Political campaigning

Political candidates for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election have been using YouTube as an outlet for advertising their candidacies. Voters can view candidate statements and make videos supporting (or opposing) presidential candidates (e.g., videos for Ron Paul, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.) Third Party presidential candidates have also made extensive use of YouTube. Libertarian Steve Kubby's campaign debuted a short animated film, featuring the faces and voices of campaign contributors who financed its production, on YouTube on September 29, 2007. The U.S. media has often commented that YouTube played a significant role in the 2006 defeat of Republican Senator George Allen due to a video clip of him making allegedly racist remarks that was continuously replayed by YouTube viewers during the campaign. Political commentators such as James Kotecki have also joined the YouTube world of politics. Many commentators make videos on YouTube critiquing a presidential candidate's YouTube videos, or simply using YouTube as a medium to get their opinions heard. Recently, French and Italian politicians, such as Antonio Di Pietro, have also been using the site as part of their campaigns. YouTube has also been used by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard in the lead up to the 2007 federal election. Jordan's Queen Rania was one of the first royals to use the site, launching a five month video conversation with viewers about Muslim stereotypes .

CNN-YouTube presidential debates

In the run up to the 2008 Presidential elections, CNN aired a debate in which candidates fielded questions selected from a pool submitted by users of YouTube. Because of the use of technology to aggregate questions from a wide range of constituents, the forum has been referred to as the "most democratic Presidential Debate ever".

April Fools'

For the 2008 April Fools' Day prank, every "Featured Video" on the front page redirected to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up," effectively rickrolling everyone who attempted to watch a featured video on the site.

WeTube

Google has announced that WeTube will be an upcoming service by YouTube available to the public later in 2008. It was announced that it will be a website where YouTube users can broadcast their videos to viewers live and also demonstrate their talent by hosting their own web show.

See also

References

External links

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