Reward creativity: Youtube to share its revenue with genuine video uploaders

YouTube is a popular free video sharing website which lets users upload, view, and share video clips. Videos can be rated; the average rating and the number of times a video has been watched are both published.

Founded in February 2005 by three former employees of PayPal, the San Bruno-based service utilizes Adobe Flash technology to display video. The wide variety of site content includes movie and TV clips and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging and short original videos. Currently staffed by 67 employees, the company was named TIME magazine’s “Invention of the Year” for 2006. In October 2006, Google Inc. announced that it had reached a deal to acquire the company for US$1.65 billion in Google’s stock

YouTube founder Chad Hurley confirmed to the BBC that his team was working on a revenue-sharing mechanism that would “reward creativity”. The system would be rolled out in a couple of months, he said, and use a mixture of adverts, including short clips shown ahead of the actual film. YouTube has more than 70m users a month and was recently bought by Google.

The offer applies only to people who own the full copyright of the videos that they are uploading to the YouTube website. The company, which Google bought in November last year for $1.65bn, was currently working on “audio fingerprinting” technologies to identify copyrighted material, Mr Hurley said in a session on social networking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Speaking after the session, he declined to give further details, saying that YouTube was still working out the technology and processes involved – both for the rewards system and the video clip advertising system. But he confirmed that the various features would be rolled out one by one over the next few months.

“There won’t be one big release,” he said.

The audience of the YouTube website will not have to put up with overly long “pre-roll” adverts. Mr Hurley said a clip of three seconds length was one of the options, although the details had not been worked out yet. Other video sharing sites such as Revver already split advertising revenues with users uploading original content, but only YouTube has managed to attract an audience measuring in the tens of millions. Mr Hurley said the fact that YouTube had not had a revenue sharing model was one of the reasons for its success, as that had allowed the website to focus on its key strength, making it easy to share videos with others.

YouTube has repeatedly clashed with film studios and music publishers over copyrighted material that has been uploaded to the website. The company says that it is quick to remove copyrighted material on the site that has been brought to its attention. Since the takeover by Google, YouTube has also negotiated a string of deals with large media groups, which also involve some revenue sharing.