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YouTube Explained - Overview of the Google Video Sharing Tool



YouTube is a popular video hosting and sharing service that was purchased by Google in 2006. The service lets users view and upload video files. In addition to hosting videos, the service lets users rate videos, add comments, and subscribe to their favorite producers.

Registration is free. It is not required to view videos, but you do need to register for some features.

YouTube is located on the Web at www.youtube.com.


YouTube was founded in a garage in February 2005 and officially launched in December of that same year. The service became an almost instant hit. YouTube was purchased by Google in 2006 for approximately 1.6 billion dollars, even though YouTube was not yet earning a profit.

Google has announced that they intend to continue development of YouTube as a separate brand name. This is similar to how Google handles Blogger.

Watching Videos:

YouTubes videos are hosted and served from YouTube. You can watch videos directly at www.youtube.com or you can watch YouTube videos embedded in other locations, such as blogs and Web sites.

This means you don't actually have to visit YouTube to view YouTube content. It also means that you can use YouTube content to spice up your own Web site.

Video Format:

YouTube uses Adobe Flash to play back videos. This is a standard format supported by most browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. YouTube videos can be played on some mobile devices and even on the Nintendo Wii game system.

Finding Videos:

You can find videos on YouTube in one of many ways. You can search by keyword, you can browse by topic, or you can scan the list of the most popular videos. If you find a video producer you enjoy, you can subscribe to that user's videos.

YouTube Community:

One of the reasons YouTube has been so popular is because it fosters a sense of community. You can not only view videos, but you can also rate and comment on videos. Some users even respond with video commentary.

This community atmosphere has even created Internet video stars, including mentions in magazines and television appearances. One popular video blogger, "lonelygirl15" was revealed to be a fictional character played by actress Jessica Rose.

YouTube and Copyright:

Along with original content, a lot of videos uploaded to YouTube are clips from popular movies, television shows, and music videos. YouTube limits the length of content to clips and has links to report copyright violations. However, this requires someone verify the violation by hand.

YouTube has partnered with commercial content providers for the legal viewing of some commercial content. Google has been sued over copyright infringement and has promised future technological solutions that will more readily detect piracy.

Uploading Videos:

You need to register for a free account in order to upload content. You can upload most popular video formats: .WMV, .AVI, .MOV, and .MPG files. YouTube automatically converts these files to Flash as they're uploaded.

Putting Videos on Your Blog:

You are free to embed anyone's videos on your blog or Web page. You don't even need to be a member of YouTube. Each video page contains the html code that you can copy and paste.

Be aware that embedding too many videos can create slow load times for people viewing your blog or Web pages. For best results, only embed one video per page.

Downloading Videos:

YouTube does not allow you to easily download videos. There are third party tools that allow you to do so, but they are not encouraged or supported by YouTube. They may even violate YouTube's user agreement.
You agree not to circumvent, disable or otherwise interfere with security related features of the YouTube Website or features that prevent or restrict use or copying of any Content or enforce limitations on use of the YouTube Website or the Content therein.

The Bottom Line:

YouTube's content is interesting and unpredictable. It isn't always safe for work or appropriate for children. Copyright violations are rampant. However, YouTube is changing the world. YouTube was specifically cited in Time magazine's choice of "You" as the 2006 Person of the Year.

With an inexpensive digital camera and an Internet connection, anyone can be a video star.

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