Google Fast Forwards for Video Downloads; Intellectual Property

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Evans

LAST week saw a significant development in the online video distribution industry, as search giant Google acquired online video sharing site YouTube in a share swap valued by analysts at over $1.6bn.

This level of popularity and the general awareness of the YouTube brand certainly give the company value - but is that alone worth $1.6 bn?

YouTube runs a website which enables users to upload video content which then becomes accessible to visitors to the YouTube website. It has experienced an explosive upsurge in popularity - growing in size to a point where it now serves 100 million downloads a day.

Many argue that the growth in YouTube's popularity comes from copyright-infringing material that users have uploaded - from music videos to TV shows and films. If the copyright infringing content disappears, then some predict the number of hits YouTube's website receives would drop considerably.

YouTube has been surrounded by takeover rumours for much of 2006, but many analysts and industry executives viewed it as a difficult acquisition target because they see it as a growing target for the highly litigious record, film and television industries.

YouTube have been developing a copyright infringement filtering technology, based on watermarks, which was apparently key in persuading major entertainment industry players to grant it content licences.

In September, YouTube signed a deal with Warner Music to allow YouTube to legitimately allow users to view, change and re-upload Warner's music videos through the YouTube website. Music industry giants SonyBMG and Universal Music Group also inked deals with the company shortly before its takeover by Google.

CBS Corporation has been the first major US television network to sign up to provide short video clip content and also to trial YouTube's new technology - which will allow CBS to locate CBS copyright content and remove it or (at their sole discretion) leave it in place and take a slice of the income from the advertising placed on the page around the video. …