Going down the YouTube – Embedded website video players, powered by Bittorrent, on way?

(Ssssh. I’m not really here remember.)

It was predicted and now it’s happening. More and more videos are being pulled from YouTube. Comedy Central are the guys with the big lawyers this time. So the Daily Show and the Colbert Report which from this side of the Atlantic are only popular due to the likes of YouTube, are now biting the hand that fed them. Little surprise there. This seems to be the same cycle again and again.

Years back Napster was the source for music online. Go there, tell it what you wanted. “Fuck copyright” people said (as did Napster). Napster delivered whatever you wanted. It achieved critical mass and it got served. Metallica and the record companies totaled it. Only right I suppose since copyright has strong legal protection. Bless lobbying! The weakest point of YouTube is that it is centralised, just like Napster. Take out the centre and the network collapses. Now with Google being the daddy it becomes easier again since they’re all corporate these days. They don’t want to be sued out of their 4 billion in cash or whatever is their current cash stockpile. In fairness Google has managed to licence some content but not all. YouTube will never have all content and Google will never be able to licence all the worlds information. Despite their aims.

We’ll see licenced content more and more on YouTube and less and less of the unlicenced. I think Google just bought this years model when it should be considering investing in the tech that is coming down the road. They bought obsolescence. It’s the creative types that are going to route around this legal roadblock and Google should have known this. I’m sure it’ll be the premier source for music videos and the like and some licenced TV shows. Wow. It will also have all the user generated stuff sans any music or clips from movie studios or record companies. Borrrrring. Soon you just might see 12 year olds getting cease and desists for lip-synching to Shakira songs.

So where will this unlicenced content go? Well, where did the unlicenced stuff go after Napster? Kazaa and the likes. Distributed networks. They in turn got shut down or infiltrated and spammed and became less useful. Then came along Bittorrent. Even more distributed. Distributed networks and distributed content. If you want something from BitTorrent your computer will go out and take bits of a song or video from different people and glue all these pieces back together. A much harder system to shut down than anything previously.

So I’m thinking maybe that’s where video is headed. Imagine an embedded video player on your site than doesn’t get its content from YouTube but goes about the web and downloads various pieces from 100s of different sources. How many lawyers and lawyer letters to then remove that content? How many Governments and ISPs would they need to pressure and lobby? You might be able to go after 100 sites and 100 servers but 1000, 10,000, 1 million? It’s an arms race against creativity and innovation. I look forward to my embedded website video player powered by Bittorrent. If content owners were clever they might try and make a business model out of this. Instead they’ll try and block it.

Bonus link. Seems the Google deal included lots of money to buy off the copyright holders.

3 Responses to “Going down the YouTube – Embedded website video players, powered by Bittorrent, on way?”

  1. Suzy says:

    As you are not really here you will have missed the news that Comedy Central are only taking down full episodes and not every clip (phew….) See Jeff Jarvis http://www.buzzmachine.com/index.php/2006/10/31/laughs-continue/

  2. And Jon Stewart has rowed in with support for his Comedy Central clips to remain intact. Hundreds have magically reappeared on YouTube already.

  3. fmk says:

    damien – check out what the skype boys are doing. there are others working on similar solutions.

    streaming p2p is not as straightforward as it sounds. traditional bittorrent clients do not download progressively – they seek the rarist piece of the file first, so that the new downloader is now seeding that. the piece of the file you get first could actually be from the end of the file. streaming would need progressive downloading.

    the other downside of p2p streaming is upload rates from users. it could mean you’d be in a situation similar to early streaming, or even pseudo-streaming solutions: the initial buffer time could potentially be quite large. of course, we are talking about small files here (the avergae viewed lenght of a youtube file is about 2.5 mins), so this isn’t necessarily much of an issue in the real world.

    legally, you still get the problem of who is coordinating the content. do you end up with another grokster? or could you safe harbour the co-ordinating of content?