Internet search company Google, Inc. has confirmed that it is to buy video sharing website YouTube and promised to continue its efforts to identify copyright material uploaded to the site without permission.
Under the deal, YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley receive $1.65 billion of Google stock. The site will retain its name and management structure, although changes are expected in its search and advertising facilities.
Speaking to investors yesterday, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt described YouTube as a “clear winner” in the use of video for social networking and community building, adding: “That’s what really drove us to start the conversation [to buy the company].”
Just hours prior to the takeover announcement, YouTube had announced that it had signed agreements with US television network CBS and music labels Sony BMG and Universal Music. A similar deal was announced with Warner Music last month.
Under the deals, YouTube will host licensed versions of music videos and TV shows. Videos submitted by members of the public will be subject to electronic analysis to detect the unauthorised use of copyright materials within them. Copyright holders will be given the opportunity to refuse uploads, or to take a share of revenues from adverts displayed alongside approved content.
However, some commentators have expressed concerns that Google could be making themselves vulnerable to legal action over breaches of copyright. Internet entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who recently said that anybody who bought YouTube would be “a moron” because of the legal implications, said: “It will be interesting to see what happens next and what happens in the copyright world. I still think Google’s lawyers will be a busy, busy bunch.”
Schmidt confirmed that Google’s own content upload service, Google Video, is to remain in its current form. “Google Video is doing very well, with lots of interesting partnerships and a tremendous amount of content,” he explained. However, a spokesman for Google Video told The Stage that no details on how the two video sharing sites would co-operate had yet been worked out.