I don’t mean the kind of corruption that regularly sends lowlifes like Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic former governor of Illinois, to prison. Those abuses are nonpartisan and always with us. So is vote theft of the kind we’ve just seen in North Carolina—after all, the alleged fraudster employed by the Republican candidate for Congress hired himself out to Democrats in 2010.
YouTube does not usually offer a download link for its videos, and intends for them to be viewed through its website interface. A small number of videos, can be downloaded as MP4 files. Numerous third-party web sites, applications and browser plug-ins allow users to download YouTube videos. In February 2009, YouTube announced a test service, allowing some partners to offer video downloads for free or for a fee paid through Google Checkout. In June 2012, Google sent cease and desist letters threatening legal action against several websites offering online download and conversion of YouTube videos. In response, Zamzar removed the ability to download YouTube videos from its site.
YouTube is one of the most popular websites on the planet, receiving billions of views a year and paying out millions to the content creators that it hosts. Money earned through YouTube is generated by advertisements. Content creators who host ads on their videos receive about half of the ad revenue those ads generate, while YouTube takes the rest. Anyone can monetize their videos, as long as their videos do not break copyright law.
The choice of the name www.youtube.com led to problems for a similarly named website, www.utube.com. The site's owner, Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, filed a lawsuit against YouTube in November 2006 after being regularly overloaded by people looking for YouTube. Universal Tube has since changed the name of its website to www.utubeonline.com. In October 2006, Google Inc. announced that it had acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock, and the deal was finalized on November 13, 2006.
Observers speculate Google has sought streaming rights to on-demand TV shows and movies to bolster YouTube Red, its new subscription service. Some media reports suggest Google could go a step further and buy rights to live TV channels, making it a more direct foe of pay TV providers such as Comcast (CMCSA), AT&T (T) and Verizon Communications (VZ). Google is usually mentioned when broadcasting rights to major sports are up for grabs.
In June 2007, YouTube began trials of a system for automatic detection of uploaded videos that infringe copyright. Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarded this system as necessary for resolving lawsuits such as the one from Viacom, which alleged that YouTube profited from content that it did not have the right to distribute. The system, which was initially called "Video Identification" and later became known as Content ID, creates an ID File for copyrighted audio and video material, and stores it in a database. When a video is uploaded, it is checked against the database, and flags the video as a copyright violation if a match is found. When this occurs, the content owner has the choice of blocking the video to make it unviewable, tracking the viewing statistics of the video, or adding advertisements to the video. By 2010, YouTube had "already invested tens of millions of dollars in this technology". In 2011, YouTube described Content ID as "very accurate in finding uploads that look similar to reference files that are of sufficient length and quality to generate an effective ID File". By 2012, Content ID accounted for over a third of the monetized views on YouTube.
In 2013, YouTube introduced an option for channels with at least a thousand subscribers to require a paid subscription in order for viewers to watch videos. In April 2017, YouTube set an eligibility requirement of 10,000 lifetime views for a paid subscription. On January 16, 2018, the eligibility requirement for monetization was changed to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. The move was seen as an attempt to ensure that videos being monetized did not lead to controversy, but was criticized for penalizing smaller YouTube channels.
And while PewDiePie only follows a few hundred people on Twitter, many of them are alt-right-identified figures — including Peterson, the prominent Gamergate writer Ian Miles Cheong, Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson, the alt-right YouTube philosopher Stefan Molyneux, the alt-right Canadian blogger Lauren Southern, the recently “redpilled” YouTube personality Laci Green, and leading figures of YouTube’s reactionary right-wing community, like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro. PewDiePie also followed notorious alt-right YouTuber Sargon of Akkad until the latter’s suspension from Twitter last year. (Kjellberg has not responded to a request from Vox for comment.)
But even if you discount YouTube's multiples a bit to account for its profit uncertainty, you're still left with a very valuable business. At six times Mizuho's revenue estimate, YouTube would be worth $90 billion. At seven times, it would be worth $105 billion. And those valuation figures would rise a little more if one tacked on a slight premium (say, $5 billion or $10 billion) for the potential of YouTube's subscription businesses.
I worry about these questions a lot, and I wonder if our 21st-century American institutions are up to the challenges they’ve created with their market successes and ethical abdications. Even so, when I visited Chennai, I felt okay about the media future we’re heading into. The toddler videos that ChuChu is posting on YouTube are cultural hybrids, exuberant and cosmopolitan, and in a philosophical sense they presuppose a world in which all children are part of one vast community, drawing on the world’s collective heritage of storytelling. That’s a rich narrative rootstock, with lots of lessons to teach—and right now who’s better poised to make the most of it than ChuChu and companies like it, especially if they can learn from the legacy of American educational TV?
“All I said was I like this guy’s anime review,” PewDiePie says in the video. “[The channel creator] apparently likes to have hidden and not-so-hidden Nazi references in his videos and obviously if I noticed that I wouldn’t have referenced him in the shoutout. ... I said publicly a year and a half ago that I was going to distance myself from Nazi jokes and that kind of stuff, because I want nothing to do with it. Generally, I’ve done that. I don’t really have a reason to dip into that again — it’s just stupid.”
Conversely, YouTube has also allowed government to more easily engage with citizens, the White House's official YouTube channel being the seventh top news organization producer on YouTube in 2012 and in 2013 a healthcare exchange commissioned Obama impersonator Iman Crosson's YouTube music video spoof to encourage young Americans to enroll in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)-compliant health insurance. In February 2014, U.S. President Obama held a meeting at the White House with leading YouTube content creators to not only promote awareness of Obamacare but more generally to develop ways for government to better connect with the "YouTube Generation". Whereas YouTube's inherent ability to allow presidents to directly connect with average citizens was noted, the YouTube content creators' new media savvy was perceived necessary to better cope with the website's distracting content and fickle audience.
In June 2014, YouTube introduced videos playing at 60 frames per second, in order to reproduce video games with a frame rate comparable to high-end graphics cards. The videos play back at a resolution of 720p or higher. YouTube videos are available in a range of quality levels. The former names of standard quality (SQ), high quality (HQ), and high definition (HD) have been replaced by numerical values representing the vertical resolution of the video. The default video stream is encoded in the VP9 format with stereo Opus audio; if VP9/WebM is not supported in the browser/device or the browser's user agent reports Windows XP, then H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video with stereo AAC audio is used instead.