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 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).
Social impactBefore 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.
Domain name problemYouTube'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.
CriticismYouTube 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.
BlockingYouTube 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.
SpammingWith 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 <site> 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.
Video formatYouTube'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.
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.
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.
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.
YouTube Video AwardsIn 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.