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YouTube, LLC
Type Subsidiary, Limited liability company
Founded February 2005
Founder Steve Chen
Chad Hurley
Jawed Karim
Headquarters San Bruno, California, United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Chad Hurley (CEO)
Steve Chen (CTO)
Jawed Karim (Advisor)
Owner Google Inc.
Slogan Broadcast Yourself
list of localized domain names
Alexa rank 4
Type of site MPEG-4 Video hosting service
Advertising Google AdSense
Registration Optional
(required to upload, rate, and comment on videos, but not required to watch videos)
Available in 14 languages (22 if different language variations are taken into account)
Launched February 2005 (2005-02)
Current status Active

YouTube is a video sharing website on which users can upload and share videos. Three former PayPal employees created YouTube in February 2005.[1] In November 2006, YouTube, LLC was bought by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion, and is now operated as a subsidiary of Google. The company is based in San Bruno, California, and uses Adobe Flash Video technology to display a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips, and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging and short original videos. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals, although media corporations including CBS, the BBC, UMG and other organizations offer some of their material via the site, as part of the YouTube partnership program.[2]

Unregistered users can watch the videos, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos. Videos that are considered to contain potentially offensive content are available only to registered users over the age of 18. The uploading of videos containing defamation, pornography, copyright violations, and material encouraging criminal conduct is prohibited by YouTube's terms of service. The account profiles of registered users are referred to as "channels."[3]

Company history

YouTube's current headquarters in San Bruno, California.

YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal.[4] Hurley studied design at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, while Chen and Karim studied computer science together at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[5]

According to a story that has often been repeated in the media, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen developed the idea for YouTube during the early months of 2005, after they had experienced difficulty sharing videos that had been shot at a dinner party at Chen's apartment in San Francisco. Jawed Karim did not attend the party and denied that it had occurred, while Chad Hurley commented that the idea that YouTube was founded after a dinner party "was probably very strengthened by marketing ideas around creating a story that was very digestible."[6]

YouTube began as a venture-funded technology startup, primarily from a US$11.5 million investment by Sequoia Capital between November 2005 and April 2006.[7] YouTube's early headquarters were situated above a pizzeria and Japanese restaurant in San Mateo, California.[8] The domain name was activated on February 15, 2005, and the website was developed over the subsequent months.[9] The first YouTube video was entitled Me at the zoo, and shows founder Jawed Karim at San Diego Zoo.[10] The video was uploaded on April 23, 2005, and can still be viewed on the site.[11]

YouTube offered the public a beta test of the site in May 2005, six months before the official launch in November 2005. The site grew rapidly, and in July 2006 the company announced that more than 65,000 new videos were being uploaded every day, and that the site was receiving 100 million video views per day.[12] According to data published by market research company comScore, YouTube is the dominant provider of online video in the United States, with a market share of around 43 percent and more than six billion videos viewed in January 2009.[13] It is estimated that 20 hours of new videos are uploaded to the site every minute, and that around three quarters of the material comes from outside the United States.[14][15] It is also estimated that in 2007 YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000.[16] In March 2008, YouTube's bandwidth costs were estimated at approximately US$1 million a day.[17] Alexa ranks YouTube as the fourth most visited website on the Internet, behind Google, Yahoo! and Facebook.[18]

The choice of the name led to problems for a similarly named website, The owner of the site, Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, filed a lawsuit against YouTube in November 2006 after being overloaded on a regular basis by people looking for YouTube. Universal Tube has since changed the name of its website to[19][20]

In October 2006, Google Inc. announced that it had acquired YouTube for US$1.65 billion in Google stock, and the deal was finalized on November 13, 2006.[21] Google does not provide detailed figures for YouTube's running costs, and YouTube's revenues in 2007 were noted as "not material" in a regulatory filing.[17] In June 2008 a Forbes magazine article projected the 2008 revenue at US$200 million, noting progress in advertising sales.[22]

In November 2008, YouTube reached an agreement with MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment and CBS, allowing the companies to post full-length films and television episodes on the site, accompanied by advertisements in a section for US viewers called "Shows". The move was intended to create competition with websites such as Hulu, which features material from NBC, Fox, and Disney.[23][24] In November 2009, YouTube launched a version of "Shows" available to UK viewers, offering around 4000 full-length shows from more than 60 partners.[25]

On October 9, 2009, the third anniversary of the acquisition by Google, Chad Hurley announced in a blog posting that YouTube was serving "well over a billion views a day" worldwide.[26]

Social impact

Charlie Bit My Finger - Harry and his little brother Charlie, in YouTube's most viewed video.

Before the launch of YouTube in 2005, there were few easy methods available for ordinary computer users who wanted to post videos online. With its simple interface, YouTube made it possible for anyone with an Internet connection to post a video that a worldwide audience could watch within a few minutes. The wide range of topics covered by YouTube has turned video sharing into one of the most important parts of Internet culture.

An early example of the social impact of YouTube was the success of the Bus Uncle video in 2006. It shows a heated conversation between a youth and an older man on a bus in Hong Kong, and was discussed widely in the mainstream media.[27] Another YouTube video to receive extensive coverage is guitar,[28] which features a performance of Pachelbel's Canon on an electric guitar. The name of the performer is not given in the video, and after it received millions of views The New York Times revealed the identity of the guitarist as Jeong-Hyun Lim, a 23-year-old from South Korea who had recorded the track in his bedroom.[29]

YouTube was awarded a 2008 George Foster Peabody Award and cited for being "a 'Speakers' Corner' that both embodies and promotes democracy."[30][31]


Copyrighted material

YouTube has been criticized for failing to ensure that its videos respect the law of copyright. At the time of uploading a video, YouTube users are always shown a screen with the following message:

Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts or commercials without permission unless they consist entirely of content you created yourself. The Copyright Tips page and the Community Guidelines can help you determine whether your video infringes someone else's copyright.[32]

Despite this advice, there are still many unauthorized clips from television shows, films and music videos on YouTube. YouTube does not view videos before they are posted online, and it is left to copyright holders to issue a takedown notice under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Organizations including Viacom, Mediaset and the English Premier League have filed lawsuits against YouTube, claiming that it has done too little to prevent the uploading of copyrighted material.[33][34][35] Viacom, demanding US$1 billion in damages, said that it had found more than 150,000 unauthorized clips of its material on YouTube that had been viewed "an astounding 1.5 billion times". YouTube responded by stating that it "goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works". Since Viacom filed its lawsuit, YouTube has introduced a system called Video ID, which checks uploaded videos against a database of copyrighted content with the aim of reducing violations.[36][37]

In August 2008, a U.S. court ruled in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. that copyright holders cannot order the removal of an online file without first determining whether the posting reflected fair use of the material. The case involved Stephanie Lenz from Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, who had made a home video of her 13-month-old son dancing to Prince's song "Let's Go Crazy" and posted the 29-second video on YouTube.[38]

Inappropriate content

YouTube has also faced criticism over the offensive content in some of its videos. Although YouTube's terms of service forbid the uploading of material likely to be considered inappropriate, YouTube does not check every video before it goes online. Controversial areas for videos have included Holocaust denial and the Hillsborough Disaster, in which 96 football fans from Liverpool were crushed to death in 1989, conspiracy theories and religion.[39][40]

YouTube relies on its users to flag the content of videos as inappropriate, and a YouTube employee will view a flagged video to determine whether it violates the site's terms of service.[3] In July 2008 the Culture and Media Committee of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom stated that it was "unimpressed" with YouTube's system for policing its videos, and argued that "Proactive review of content should be standard practice for sites hosting user generated content." YouTube responded by stating: "We have strict rules on what's allowed, and a system that enables anyone who sees inappropriate content to report it to our 24/7 review team and have it dealt with promptly. We educate our community on the rules and include a direct link from every YouTube page to make this process as easy as possible for our users. Given the volume of content uploaded on our site, we think this is by far the most effective way to make sure that the tiny minority of videos that break the rules come down quickly."[41]

Privacy ruling

In July 2008, Viacom won a court ruling requiring YouTube to hand over data detailing the viewing habits of every user who has watched videos on the site. The move led to concerns that the viewing habits of individual users could be identified through a combination of their IP addresses and login names. The decision was criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called the court ruling "a set-back to privacy rights".[42] U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton dismissed the privacy concerns as "speculative", and ordered YouTube to hand over documents totalling around 12 terabytes of data. Judge Stanton rejected Viacom's request for YouTube to hand over the source code of its search engine system, saying that there was no evidence that YouTube treated videos infringing copyright differently.[43][44]


Several countries have blocked access to YouTube since its inception, including the People's Republic of China,[45][46] Morocco,[47] and Thailand.[48] YouTube is currently blocked in Turkey after controversy over videos deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.[49] Despite the block, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted to journalists that he could access YouTube, since the site is still available in Turkey by using an open proxy.[50]

On December 3, 2006, Iran temporarily blocked access to YouTube, along with several other sites, after declaring them as violating social and moral codes of conduct. The YouTube block came after a video was posted online that appeared to show an Iranian soap opera star having sex.[51] The block was later lifted and then reinstated after Iran's 2009 presidential election.[52]

On February 23, 2008, Pakistan blocked YouTube because of "offensive material" towards the Islamic faith, including display of the Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.[53] This led to a near global blackout of the YouTube site for around two hours, as the Pakistani block was inadvertently transferred to other countries. Pakistan lifted its block on February 26, 2008.[54] Many Pakistanis circumvented the three-day block by using virtual private network software.[55] In early 2010, Youtube was blocked in Libya .[56].

Schools in some countries have blocked access to YouTube because of students uploading videos of bullying behavior, school fights, racist behavior, and other inappropriate content.[57]

Video technology

Comparison of normal, high, and HD quality YouTube videos played in YouTube and their native resolution.


Viewing YouTube videos on a personal computer requires the Adobe Flash Player plug-in to be installed in the browser. The Adobe Flash Player plug-in is one of the most common pieces of software installed on personal computers and accounts for almost 75% of online video material.[58]


Videos uploaded to YouTube by standard account holders are limited to ten minutes in length and a file size of 2 GB.[59][60] When YouTube was launched in 2005 it was possible to upload longer videos, but a ten minute limit was introduced in March 2006 after YouTube found that the majority of videos exceeding this length were unauthorized uploads of television shows and films.[61][62] Partner accounts are permitted to upload videos longer than ten minutes, subject to acceptance by YouTube.[63]

YouTube accepts videos uploaded in most container formats, including .AVI, .MKV, .MOV, .MP4, DivX, .FLV, and .OGG. These include video codecs such as MPEG-4, MPEG, and .WMV. It also supports 3GP, allowing videos to be uploaded from legacy mobile phones.[64]

Quality and codecs

YouTube originally offered videos at only one quality level, but now has a range of quality levels as well as a format for viewing on mobile phones. The original format displayed videos at a resolution of 320x240 pixels using the H.263 Sorenson Spark codec, with mono MP3 audio.[65]

Since March 2008, YouTube videos have been available in a range of quality levels, with the higher quality levels offering improved picture definition.[66] In November 2008 720p HD support was added.[67] At the same time, the YouTube player was changed from a 4:3 aspect ratio to a widescreen 16:9. In November 2009, 1080p HD support was added. YouTube videos currently use the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec, with stereo AAC audio.[68]

Comparison of current YouTube media types (media uploaded before February 2009 may use other formats)
Standard Medium High 720p 1080p Mobile
"fmt" value, container 34, flv 18, mp4 35, flv 22, mp4 37, mp4 17, 3gp
Video Codec MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) MPEG-4 Part 2
Aspect ratio 4:3, 16:9 4:3, 16:9 16:9 11:9
Max Resolution 320×240
854×480 1280×720 1920×1080 176×144
Audio All audio uses AAC encoding with 2 channels at 44.1 kHz.

3D videos

In a video posted on July 21, 2009,[69] YouTube software engineer Peter Bradshaw announced that YouTube users can now upload 3D videos. The videos can be viewed in several different ways, including the common anaglyph (cyan/red lens) method which utilizes glasses worn by the viewer to achieve the 3D effect.[70][71][72]

HTML5 video playback

YouTube is currently testing HTML5 technology, which allows videos to be viewed without requiring Adobe Flash Player or any other plug-in to be installed.[73][74] The YouTube site has a page which allows supported browsers to opt in to the HTML5 trial.[75]

Content accessibility

One of the key features of YouTube is the ability of users to view its videos on web pages outside the site. Each YouTube video is accompanied by a piece of HTML, which can be used to embed it on a page outside the YouTube website. This functionality is often used to embed YouTube videos in social networking pages and blogs.[76]

YouTube does not usually offer a download link for its videos, and intends that they are viewed through its website interface.[77] A small number of videos, such as the weekly addresses by President Barack Obama, can be downloaded as MP4 files.[78] Numerous third-party web sites, applications and browser plug-ins allow users to download YouTube videos.[79] 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.[80]


Some smart phones are capable of accessing YouTube videos, dependent on the provider and the data plan. YouTube Mobile was launched in June 2007, and uses RTSP streaming for the video.[81] Not all of YouTube's videos are available on the mobile version of the site.[82]

Since June 2007, YouTube's videos have been available for viewing on a range of Apple products. This required YouTube's content to be transcoded into Apple's preferred video standard, H.264, a process that took several months. YouTube videos can be viewed on devices including Apple TV and the iPhone.[83] A TiVo service update in July 2008 allowed the system to search and play YouTube videos.[84] In January 2009, YouTube launched "YouTube for TV", a version of the website tailored for set-top boxes and other TV-based media devices with web browsers, initially allowing its videos to be viewed on the PlayStation 3 and Wii video game consoles.[85][86] In June 2009, YouTube XL was introduced, which has a simplified interface designed for viewing on a standard television screen.[87]


On June 19, 2007, Google CEO Eric E. Schmidt was in Paris to launch the new localization system.[88] The entire interface of the website is now available with localized versions in 22 countries:

Country URL Language Launch date
File:Flag of Australia.svg Australia English (Australia) 02007-10-22 October 22, 2007[89]
File:Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil Portuguese (Brazil) 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]
File:Flag of Canada.svg Canada English (Canada) and French (Canada) 02007-11-06 November 6, 2007[90]
File:Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czech Republic Czech 02008-10-09 October 9, 2008[91]
File:Flag of France.svg France French 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]
File:Flag of Germany.svg Germany German 02007-11-08 November 8, 2007[92]
File:Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong Chinese (Traditional) 02007-10-17 October 17, 2007[93]
File:Flag of Israel.svg Israel English 02008-09-16 September 16, 2008
File:Flag of India.svg India English (India) and Hindi 02008-05-07 May 7, 2008[94]
File:Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland English (Ireland) 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]
File:Flag of Italy.svg Italy Italian 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]
File:Flag of Japan.svg Japan Japanese 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]
File:Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea Korean 02008-01-23 January 23, 2008
File:Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico Spanish (Mexico) 02007-10-10 October 10, 2007
File:Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands Dutch 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]
File:Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand English (New Zealand) 02007-10-22 October 22, 2007[89]
File:Flag of Poland.svg Poland Polish 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]
File:Flag of Russia.svg Russia Russian 02007-11-13 November 13, 2007
File:Flag of Spain.svg Spain Spanish 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]
File:Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden Swedish 02008-10-22 October 22, 2008
File:Flag of the Republic of China.svg Republic of China (Taiwan) Chinese (Traditional) 02007-10-18 October 18, 2007[93]
File:Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom English (United Kingdom) 02007-06-19 June 19, 2007[88]

The YouTube interface suggests which local version should be chosen on the basis of the IP address of the user. In some cases, the message "This video is not available in your country" may appear because of copyright restrictions or inappropriate content.[95]

Plans for YouTube to create a local version in Turkey have run into problems, since the Turkish authorities asked YouTube to set up an office in Turkey, which would be subject to Turkish law. YouTube says that it has no intention of doing this, and that its videos are not subject to Turkish law. Turkish authorities have expressed concerns that YouTube has been used to post videos insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and some material offensive to Muslims.[96][97]

In March 2009, a dispute between YouTube and the British royalty collection agency PRS for Music led to premium music videos being blocked for YouTube users in the United Kingdom. The removal of videos posted by the major record companies occurred after failure to reach agreement on a licensing deal. The dispute was resolved in September 2009.[98] In April 2009, a similar dispute led to the removal of premium music videos for users in Germany.[99]

See also



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Further reading

  • Lacy, Sarah (2008), The Stories of Facebook, YouTube and MySpace: The People, the Hype and the Deals Behind the Giants of Web 2.0, Richmond: Crimson, ISBN 9781854584533 

External links


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