Google Buying YouTube

That's the big news today:  In a stock deal, Google is buying YouTube.

A deal like this makes me wonder what Google is really getting out of it.  Another company might be impressed by YouTube's ability to scale - to deliver video as well as they do - but surely that's nothing impressive for Google.

And Google already has Google Video, which hasn't gathered the mindshare of YouTube but technically seems to have everything that you'd need for this sort of video site.

So Google is buying YouTube, for $1.65 billion, for the YouTube name and the presence it has in this market.

But what did YouTube do to gain it's leadership position in online video?  The really innovative thing they did is to turn a mostly blind eye while people posted copyrighted videos.

Seriously - have a look around what's popular on YouTube at any given time.  Not the stuff that shows up on YouTube's own list of what's popular, but what YouTube videos people link to.  They're most frequently clips from America's Funniest Videos, The Daily Show, music videos, or people lip syncing to music videos.

Each of these is coypright infringement, and none of it should be allowed on YouTube, but there it is.

It could be that nobody's really gone after them yet because they don't make any money - there's no point in suing someone who can't pay you if you win.  But now that Google's name could be on the cheques, I'd expect to see things change.

And if YouTube stops the folks who are posting video clips from TV, how long will it remain the most popular video sharing site?

My guess:  Not long.