It’s hard to imagine a world without YouTube — which is amazing when you consider that the site’s official launch was less than a year ago. In its brief existence YouTube has become an unstoppable force, hosting 65,000 new videos per day and 20 million users per month. YouTube’s mojo is so strong that masters of world domination, Google, finally gave up trying to compete and bought the company outright.
What makes YouTube so great? Videos, of course. By simplifying the process of uploading video content YouTube has become a repository for millions of videos. The site hosts a huge number of obscure video clips you never thought you’d see again, and in many cases clips you never thought you’d see in the first place.
I visit YouTube regularly to get my fix of weird Japanese television shows, rare music videos and live performances, vintage television commercials and movie trailers, and strange public access programming.
What’s more, by simplifying the process of embedding videos in any web page, YouTube has become the de-facto standard for video sharing on the web. As a result, YouTube has almost single handedly transformed video blogging from a moderately complex technical process to something your grandfather can do.
While observers have been in a feeding frenzy over YouTube’s copyright issues, they’ve overlooked the fact that there’s a substantial amount of user-generated content on the site. By empowering users to create and distribute their own content YouTube is at the cutting edge of a fundamental transformation that is taking place in the media. The site is quickly becoming a legitimate platform for distribution of independent content.
It’s a mistake to compare YouTube with Napster and other file sharing networks that facilitated mass copyright infringement. For one, YouTube has shown a willingness to remove videos that violate copyright. The company has also been actively negotiating deals with studios to secure the rights for videos clips. Hollywood is slowly realizing the value of YouTube’s massive audience.
Some have suggested that these studio deals and their corresponding restrictions will ultimately lead to the elimination of many of the videos that make YouTube so special. However, I’m optimistic that as YouTube negotiates with Hollywood they’ll be able to maintain most of their library of strange and rare footage. For one, a lot of what we here at Medialoper would categorize as interesting video currently has almost no commercial value. In most cases the copyright holders have no plan to monetize the footage because there’s currently no market for it – at least not through existing sales channels. YouTube represents the best hope copyright holders have for making a buck from some of the more obscure items in their catalog.
There’s no telling where YouTube might end up with Google as its corporate parent. It’s entirely possible that YouTube is the television network of the future. Only time will tell. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that the site will be around for a long time to come, ensuring that I get a regular dose of videos like these: