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YouTube – Now in a National Costume June 19, 2007

Posted by John in Technology.
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Willkomen. Bienvenue. Welcome.

Today Google-owned YouTube announced nine international versions of its web video service across Brazil, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Ireland, and the UK. Each site is translated into local languages and has country-specific video rankings and comments, reports BBC’s Darren Waters, Reuters and the official Google Blog among others.

This raises a number of thoughts (besides from wondering if the YouTube-name will survive or eventually be renamed as “votre tube” or “vos tuba” or “el tubo de mi casa”): How will YouTube solve national copyright issues? What about censorship-arguments with national governments? Will an internationalization unite or split the YouTube community? What about China, India and the rest of Asia? How will the move affect the upcoming court-battle between Viacom and Google over YouTube?

At Inside Chatter Donna Bogotan takes on the last question: To get the inside take on how European plaintiffs in the lawsuit against YouTube for “massive copyright infringement” are reacting to Google’s European inroads, I spoke today with Louis Solomon, co-chair of the Litigation Department of Proskquer Rose LLP, the attorneys representing the class action plaintiffs, she writes. According to Bogotan Federation Francaise de Tennis (who organizes the French Open) and Ligue de Football Professional (whi manages the French Supercup) has joined the support of the class action against YouTube and “are now displeased that YouTube continues to agressively infringe the copyrights of others and do not welcome the new YouTube “French domain” targeted at their home country”.
At NewTeeVee Liz Gannes adds that YouTube previously has run into trouble with governments who disagree with posted content, and often capitulates to their idea of what is appropriate. She writes that the new rollouts do not include any change to how YouTube treats such situations. “At the end of the day we want to always maintain a platform that respects local laws and customs,” she quotes YouTube co-founder and CEO Chad Hurley as saying. And at Wired’s blog Epicenter Terrence Russell points at the issue timing: YouTube’s announcement comes at an interesting time for the international community, as Yahoo’s Flickr still seems to be hashing out a solution for its user revolts in Germany, Hong Kong, and Singapore due to allegations of censorship, he writes – noting that Germany is not among the first nine countries who got national YouTube-versions.

The video-giants international move was announced by it’s founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen at a press conference in Paris, France, today. But when it comes to France, YouTube is up for an interesting battle as native Dailymotion has a strong local following, according to Robert Andrew at PaidContent. “On the one hand, YouTube risks splintering the solid, single user base that has made it so popular. On the other, localization may help to crush upstart video sharing sites who aim to capitalize on an English-centric internet by launching competing services in their native tongue,” Andrew writes.

Also in the coverage from Paris: YouTube goes (even more) political. Dan Sabbagh whith British Times of London reports that outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair recently set up a channel. Tony Blair appeared on a video clip expressing surprise that he was “the first world leader to have his own YouTube channel” – as well as being arguably the shortest lived too – and said despite his own lack of computer literacy, he was “excited about the reach and accessibility of new media”, Sabbagh writes.

As we have an election year coming up, we look forward to seeing how politics will interact with the online world of video even more. Stay tuned.

By Tina Magnergard Bjers and John Furrier

PS. According to Bloomberg.com YouTube had 160.8 million users around the world in March. That’s more than seven times the number a year earlier.

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