YouTube, in its quest to make nice with copyright holders, has partnered with Nexicon, a Malibu-based digital rights management provider.
Under their arrangement, Nexicon will monitor YouTube for copyrighted material. When Nexicon identifies videos that violate a copyright, it will give the copyright owner the option to have the videos removed from the site or to leave them up and monetize them.
It's been more than a year since Google rolled out Video ID, anidentification and content management system. And in that time, the company says content providers -- including Viacom -- are increasingly choosing to leave copyrighted videos up.
That's bound to make users happy. The more videos, the better.
Know what else would make users happy? If videos on YouTube could be downloaded. It's not impossible -- anyone could probably figure out how to do it. But given the fact that YouTube technically could track videos offline (for advertising purposes) with available software, and given the fact that users want the option to download videos, why isn't it officially possible? Lots of content providers are playing with the idea -- NBC, for example, is experimenting with free downloads with commercials with an initiative called NBC Direct.
But it will never happen on YouTube, says Forrester analyst James McQuivey.
"I don't think YouTube has any incentive to create that experience," says McQuivey.
For one thing, he says, it would kill off traffic to the site if anyone could download a video to their hard drive and forward it to friends in an e-mail. And another potential problem: The videos are too short, and the advertising is too insignificant to justify the cost of that sort of system.
"[NBC] is experimenting with 30-minute or one-hour shows. In that environment, advertisers are willing to pay a premium to get in front of those viewers. But nobody's paying a premium to advertise on YouTube. The currency YouTube has right now is traffic."
Another reason why it won't happen, says McQuivey, is that it's not compatible with Google's vision of the future, in which high-speed wireless access is available everywhere and it won't matter whether anything is stored on a hard drive or online.
"Every other software solution Google has tries to push you to the web rather than your hard drive. Google's vision is that in the future everyone will have wireless high-speed access on any mobile or fixed device, so going offline to watch videos is unnecessary since you're never offline."
McQuivey is equally skeptical that YouTube could ever roll out a pay-per-view plan.
"ITunes is having a hard enough time selling TV shows for $3, can you imagine trying to sell a 3-minute clip of a skateboarding accident? What are you going to do, sell it for five cents? I just don't see that being feasible."
Of course, Google has done it before -- the billions of dollars it earns from advertising are generated pennies at a time in page views.