YouTube launches nine national sites + targets every mobile

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YouTube brushed aside accusations that it is flouting copyright law yesterday as the video-sharing website announced plans to expand beyond the US market.

The company, bought by Google for $1.65bn last year, is also planning to capitalise on the rapid take-up of mobile phones that can access online content with a series of made-for-mobile services.

YouTube’s co-founder Chad Hurley said that it was only a “lack of resources” that meant the firm was launching nine sites yesterday (JUN19)instead of 140. “Video is universal and allows people around the world to communicate and exchange ideas,” he said. “YouTube will now be more accessible and interesting to a worldwide audience.”

His co-founder Steve Chen said the aim of local sites was not just to offera translated version. “We want to create features unique to certain countries, so if mobile phones are particularly popular we would introduce more mobile features.”

YouTube, which has gone from tiny start-up to one of the internet’s largest properties in less than two years, is launching local-language versions in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Brazil and Japan, as well as services in the UK and Ireland. These nine new versions will be followed by more local versions. The move is likely to make YouTube, which already streams more than 200m videos a day, even more powerful.

The new sites support YouTube’s content deals, which include arrangements with France 24, the BBC, Antena 3 and Cuatro TV in Spain andRTP in Portugal. YouTube also has deals with the Sun, Conde Nast, Dazed &Confused and more than 40 other UK media organisations.

But the acquisition of the company by Google, with its massive cash resources, has paved the way for legal challenges by media companies who object to their copyrighted content being posted on the site. Via com issuing YouTube and Google for $1bn (GBP500m) in damages and a group of sports rights owners that includes the Premier League recently filed their own action in the US courts.

Google and YouTube deny any wrongdoing, saying that clips are removed as soon as the legal copyright owner notifies the company. But Mr Hurley hinted that sometimes it was a lack of communication within the media owners themselves that led to copyrighted material appearing. “Sometimes we have marketers uploading their own video, and then a different part of the company asks us to take it down,” he said at a meeting in Paris.

“We have more exposure and with that we have gained potentially more issues. But those issues are with a small minority of videos on the SYSTEM we will work and improve that.”

Chen added that mobile was a priority. “Our goal is to put YouTube one very screen,” said Mr Chen. “We want to create the same amazing experience on mobile devices – and definitely want to be the first video service in whatever video features are enabled on mobile.”

Hurley was also asked about the company’s policy on censorship, in reference to the controversy over Yahoo! allegedly providing personaldetails of four users in China that led to prosecutions for their pro-democracy writing. “We are working with Google to create effective policies and to allow control of what is used on the site,” he said. “We want to respect local laws and local cultures.”
[Submitted by Imran Asad]

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