Tag Archives: YouTube

Why I’m Giving up on Creative Commons on YouTube

CC HeartI’ve been a long-time supporter of Creative Commons content licensing, which facilitates the proliferation of art and culture through sharing. On Flickr, I license the majority of my photos CC BY-NC-SA. It’s a good implementation and I’m happy to support people using my stuff non-commercially as I have other artists’ works.

Not so on YouTube. I recently came across this opportunistic individual who took my drone video of Burning Man 2013 and reposted it in its entirety to YouTube under the inaccurate and misleading title “Drone’s Eye View of Burning Man 2014.” A few issues here.

1. It’s not a video from 2014. This guy just reposted my 2013 video using a very SEO friendly title, as apparently a lot of people are searching for Burning Man 2014 drone videos. Google is happy to send people his way.

2. He’s monetized my video, I have not. I explicitly chose not to monetize the video as I was abiding by Burning Man’s noncommercial ethos. At almost 100k views, this guy is surely profiting.

3. There’s not much I can do about it.

The reason I can’t do anything about is I originally licensed my video CC BY, YouTube’s only Creative Commons license option.  CC BY means that a user can do whatever they want with it, just as long as they give proper attribution to the creator (more on that later).  Commercial use is allowed, which YouTube makes very easy by letting the resulting video be monetized with ads. Combine that with an SEO friendly, yet inaccurate and misleading title, and PROFIT!

YT Licenses

I never expected that someone would repost the video in its entirety and monetize tons of views from it, or that YouTube would make this so easy.

The intention of CC licenses, as I’ve always believed, is to grease the wheels of culture. To create a repository of creative work that can be drawn upon to make new creative works. There are a handful of different Creative Commons license options that allow a creator to decide how they wish their works to be used. I generally go with CC BY-NC-SA which stands for “By Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike.” By using this license I’m stating that you are welcome to use my works non-commercially in your own work as long as you properly attribute it to me and share the resulting work in the same manner. If you want to use my works commercially, you are welcome to contact me and see if I’m open to a deal. Otherwise, there is no need to get my permission as long as you adhere to these terms.

The real issue is YouTube’s remix tool is horribly broken. Of the 68 videos that users have “remixed” from my video, 36 are wholesale reposts of my entire video (many of which are monetized with ads). 28 are by accounts that have since been deleted by YouTube for various TOS violations and a whopping THREE are actual original new works in which a sample of my video appears.

YouTube Videos Using This Content

How YouTube fulfills CC’s attribution requirement is also broken. CC BY license stipulates, “If supplied, you must provide the name of the creator and attribution parties, a copyright notice, a license notice, a disclaimer notice, and a link to the material.”  To find this info on YouTube, you must go a video’s landing page and first click the “SHOW MORE” text in the description below the video. Here the Creative Commons Attribution license with link is clearly displayed. Below this, there’s a “View attributions” link which needs to be clicked to discover the original author’s credit and source video link. There’s no way the average YouTube user is going to go through these steps to learn what they are viewing was partially or wholly created by someone else. 

Drone_s_eye_view_of_Burning_Man_2014_-_YouTube_1

2nd click

It’s really unfortunate that YouTube doesn’t offer different flavors of CC licenses like Flickr has been doing for years. Had BY NC been an option, monetization could be prevented. I guess it’s not in YouTube’s interest to offer video hosting for videos that can never be monetized.

As long as YouTube’s CC implementation is broken, I will not participate in it. I’ve rolled back the CC licenses on 35 of my videos to YouTube’s Standard license. Not ideal, but at least I have some recourse if someone now tries to profit from my videos.

It’s a real bummer as Creative Commons is a great resource for source material for making art and furthering remix culture. I really hope YouTube cares enough to get it right.

YouTube Live Threshold Lowered to 100 Subscribers

YouTube Live

This is a bit of great news for those looking to live stream inexpensively (FREE) an event without annoying pre-roll or overlay advertising. YouTube, which has been experimenting with live streaming in various stages since 2008, has lowered the threshold to qualify to use their YouTube Live streaming service. As of Friday, YouTube account holders only need to have 100 subscribers to their channel and be in good standing to use the new live streaming features. If you can’t get 100 subscribers, then you should be probably just leave the Internet.

A quick rundown of the features that make YouTube Live so compelling:

  • Completely free live streaming with no advertising (unless you want it, then you can opt-in to revenue share)
  • Supports up to 1080p HD streams at 6Mb/s
  • Multi-bitrate transcoding – encode one HD stream and other bitrates are automatically generated and offered in player (1080, 720, 480, 360, 240)
  • Mobile/tablet support (Android & iOS)
  • DVR feature – automatically rewind to an earlier part of a live broadcast
  • Automatic recording of live event (up to 4 hours in length)
  • Detailed real-time analytics
  • Free desktop encoder software – Wirecast for YouTube

To get started, log into your YouTube account. Go to Channel Settings -> Features. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see a line that says Live events.  Click the button that says Enable next to it. If you don’t see Enable, keep checking back as YouTube is rolling out Live gradually to handle the expected load.  See the YouTube Live Streaming Guide for more info.  Happy streaming!

YouTube Live enable

Who Broke Today’s Live Streaming Record, YouTube or Akamai?

Today was the day that Felix Baumgartner set several records for ascending to 128,000 feet in a balloon capsule and jumping to earth 4 minutes and 20 seconds later. An epic day of achievements for Red Bull Stratos for sure.

Red Bull Stratos | YouTube screenshot

YouTube is also claiming a new record of serving up more than 8 million concurrent live streams for the “most concurrent views ever on YouTube.” Also amazing to be sure. The previous record for this achievement goes to Akamai for serving up close to 7 million concurrents during Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration in 2009.

What’s interesting about this is that Akamai also served up a good chunk, if not all, of the live streams for today’s event. What a lot of people don’t know is that YouTube often relies on Akamai’s large footprint live CDN to handle big events. It’s not uncommon for live stream services to off-load capacity to third-party networks if an event is bigger than their own network can handle. YouTube has stellar capacity for the on-demand videos we all love, but when it comes to live events, they often extend their reach by using Akamai’s live streaming network services.

This begs the question, if Akamai served up all of YouTube’s live requests for today’s record breaking event, did Akamai just break their own record from 2009?

The Current State of Live Video Streaming

As I’ve got some time on my hands since being laid off from Ustream, I thought I’d take a look at the current state of live video streaming on the web. I will concentrate on the three most popular free services, Ustream, Livestream and Justin.tv. I’ll focus on core service features, ad support and removal, social network chat integration, desktop broadcaster applications, mobile integration and revenue. I’ll also touch briefly on the 800 pound elephant in the room, YouTube.

Core Features

Ustream, Livestream and Justin.tv are all similar in that anyone can broadcast full-motion live video for free on the Internet, using a Mac or PC, to millions of viewers. They’re also similar in that you can archive any broadcast for playback later, as well as embed any live broadcast or archived broadcast on to your own website. All three platforms also have interactive chat features and easy ways of sharing a live broadcast over Twitter and Facebook.

Livestream

Ustream

Justin.tv

Free, If You Don’t Mind The Ads

All three streaming platforms provide free ad-based video streaming services with the ability to archive any broadcast for future viewing. This means that when a viewer watches a live broadcast, they will see pre-roll video ads, in-player bottom banner and pop-up ads, bottom text ads, banner and sidebar ads. Watching a recorded archive broadcast will also trigger similar ads. This is a primary way streaming platforms are able to offer free streaming.

Here’s the way the platforms differ. Ustream offers unlimited streaming to as many people as can you can get to tune in. There are no restrictions on broadcast length or number of viewers. Livestream also offers unlimited free streaming, though you must go through a verification process to allow more than 50 concurrent viewers and to be listed in their directory. This is a mechanism Livestream uses to limit potential piracy. Justin.tv also allows unlimited streaming and does not require any sort of verification process. Justin.tv seems to host a lot of unlicensed content, though they do respond aggressively to DMCA takedown notifications. By contrast, Livestream and Ustream take a stated zero tolerance approach to unauthorized copyrighted content and have content monitors and automated systems to implement this policy.

Paid Option, If You Do Mind the Ads

The platforms differ when it comes to broadcasting an ad-free experience. Livestream’s premium service allows you to opt out of having ads served on your content (or plug in your own ads and monetize your content). As a premium Livestream broadcaster, anyone who views your content can do so without seeing ads. Livestream charges $350 per month to broadcast ad free, for up to 3,000 viewer hours (# of viewers x average # of hours watched = viewer hours) and 1TB of archived content. You can also pay $1250/month for up to 15,000 viewer hours monthly.

Not to be outdone, Ustream just rolled out their ad-free broadcasting service. Ustream offers three tiers of service to remove ads, also based on a monthly subscription fee. Each tier includes an increasing number of viewer hours. At $99 a month, Ustream is now the cheapest option to conduct an ad-free broadcast, as long as you don’t go over 100 viewer hours. Ustream charges an overage fee of 50 cents per viewer above that, which decreases with their $499 (4,000 hours) and $999 (9,000 hours) tier plans. Ustream also offers a paid, ad-free, white label service called Watershed.

Justin.tv also allows for an ad-free viewing experience, but throws the onus on the viewer to buy a Pro account for $10 a month. Justin.tv Pro account users will see all Justin.tv broadcasts without ads. If you’re a broadcaster, you can’t pay to have your content ad-free for your viewers, such as Ustream and Livestream do.

Chat and Social Stream

All three platforms have a real time chat feature, while Ustream and Livestream also have what they call a “social stream.” The chat features on all platforms are embedded to the right of the player and are essentially modified IRC clients. On Justin.tv the chat feature can be minimized by the user. On Ustream and Livestream, the chat feature can be switched on or off by the broadcaster.

Ustream’s Social Stream
Ustream social stream

The social stream allows viewers to post status updates to social networking sites while watching a live broadcast. Ustream’s social stream is an aggregated stream of updates from Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and AIM usually appearing to the right of the video player. A user logs into any or all of their social network accounts to post an update, which embeds a short URL back to the live broadcast channel page in the update. Status updates appear in real-time as they come in.

Livestream’s Social Stream
Livestream social stream

Livestream also has a social stream, though currently they only support Facebook and Twitter. The Livestream social stream is broken out into seperate tabs for each social network, rather than aggregated into a single stream like with Ustream. Similar to Ustream, the user logs into their Facebook or Twitter account from the broadcast channel page to be able to post updates.

The social stream is quite an ingenious way of driving engagement and traffic to a broadcast. Moderately popular broadcasts can quickly go viral as viewers post updates to their networks, thereby bringing followers into a broadcast.

Desktop Broadcast Apps

A differentiator among streaming platforms is the desktop broadcaster application. Using a desktop application to live stream is generally more robust, results in better quality and offers more features than using a platform’s web based Flash broadcaster (which can often crash because, well, it’s Flash).

Ustream Producer

Ustream has Ustream Producer, a Mac and Windows based application created by Telestream, the developer behind Wirecast. Producer is actually a slimmed down, custom branded version of Wirecast that is designed to only work with Ustream’s platform. Producer comes in two flavors, free and $199. The free version allows you to broadcast from a single camera, either a webcam or external standard definition DV camera over firewire in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. The coolest thing about the app is that you can mix in canned pre-recorded video clips, photos, audio and even virtually capture the desktop from another computer on your network. The $199 Pro version does all this with the addition of being able to switch between multiple cameras, add overlay graphics and bottom third titles. The Pro version also has a number of presets for higher quality streaming, though does not let you specify your own custom bitrate, frame rate or encoding format. One thing to note, Ustream claims that Producer Pro supports source input from HDV cameras, which is true. What is not noted is that you’ll need to pay an additional $99 on top off the $199 you’ve already shelled out for Pro to use your HDV camera. A work around, is to put your HDV camera in SD mode and you’ll avoid this, but of course, be limited to SD resolutions.

Livestream Procaster

Livestream has its Livestream Procaster application, available for Mac and Windows. I’ve only used the Mac version, though it appears that the Windows version has some additional features not yet available in the Mac version, such as VP6 encoding and custom aspect ratios. Procaster, a free app, is comparable to Ustream’s free Producer app. Procaster, which only works with Livestream, makes it super easy to broadcast from a single camera to your Livestream channel. Your camera input can be a webcam or external DV or HDV connected firewire or USB camera. HDV is supported natively, no costly plug-in needed. Procaster let’s you set a broadcast to auto-record, allows you to switch between a camera and your desktop using several 2D and 3D transition styles. Similar to Ustream Producer, Procaster lets you choose between several presets for encoding & broadcast quality. Unlike Producer, you can also specify completely custom bitrates, frame rates and resolution.

That’s essentially where Procaster ends. There is no multi-camera option, or ability to drop in lower third titles. For this functionality, you would need to purchase something like Telestream’s Wirecast ($449). Wirecast is platform agnostic, will work with Livestream, Ustream, Justin or your own CDN or Flash Media Server. Wirecast will also let you record a full resolution DV copy of your broadcast to a local hard disk, while also streaming.

Justin.tv does not have a custom desktop broadcaster application, though as mentioned above, works with Telestream’s Wirecast as well as Adobe FMLE.

Mobile Broadcasting & Viewing

All three platforms have free mobile applications to broadcast and/or view live streams for iPhone and Android devices. They differ in some subtle ways. Ustream’s Broadcaster application allows anyone to broadcast live and interact with the social stream over wifi or 3G. It works fairly well, though if you’re in AT&T’s notorious horrible coverage areas, you’ll get a rather choppy experience. Ustream also has a separate Viewer app for viewing live broadcasts, so long as they are being broadcast in H.264/AAC or with Ustream Producer.

Justin.tv has a combined broadcaster and viewer app for iPhone and Android. Like Ustream, you can broadcast over wifi or 3G and send a tweet out when you go live. You can also interact with viewers in the chat from your device while broadcasting. The viewer side of the app has an extensive list of current live broadcasts which you can easily click to view.

Livestream does not have a mobile broadcaster app, only an iPhone app for viewing broadcasts. Another option, don’t bother getting the app and just point your mobile device’s browser to Livestream’s mobile site. Broadcasts are in HTML5 (encoded as H.264/AAC) and will play natively on an iPhone (and presumably Android devices).

Where the Money Is

If you take a look at the front pages of Ustream and Livestream, you’ll likely see promotions for upcoming broadcasts with notable brands, music artists and red carpet movie premieres. These events represent real revenue and currently Ustream and Livestream have a lock on this. Justin has declined persuing premium content revenue partnerships and is focused on user generated content, including lots of video game playing. Both Ustream and Livestream have, or are opening, LA offices to go after these premium entertainment deals (though based in SF, I was part of the LA media division at Ustream).

Also, pay-per-view (PPV). There’s a lot of potential here, if someone’s able to get it right. Currently, only Ustream has dabbled in a PPV service with a Dane Cook event back in January. Just recently, Ustream announced a PPV service they’re calling Open PPV. This will give approved broadcasters a way to monetize their channels. For some reason, many people are willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money to watch people beat the crap out of each other.

The YouTube Factor

It’s no secret that YouTube has been building out live stream infrastructure and to date, successfully broadcast a number of highly trafficked events. Recently, YouTube experimented with four content partners in doing a week long series of live broadcasts.

YouTube - playbiennial_s Channel-5

A feature that YouTube has in their live player, that the other platforms don’t, is dynamic adaptive bitrate live streaming. What this means is the YouTube player is able to sniff your bandwidth and adjust itself according to how big your pipe is. If you’re viewing from a nice fat cable or fiber connection, you’ll see a high resolution, higher bitrate video. If you’re viewing from a crappy wifi or slow DSL connection, you’ll get a lower bitrate viewing experience that works with the slower connection. It’s similar to the experience you get while watching Hulu or a streamed Netflix movie. Why the current live streaming platforms have not adopted this, is a mystery, as adaptive bitrate streaming is nothing new. Adobe supports live dynamic adaptive bitrate streaming in Flash.

It may be too early to tell whether YouTube is going to roll out live streaming to the masses or whether they will continue to cherry pick select events and partners to work with in the future. Even if YouTube does not roll out en mass, they’ll likely be a formidable competitor to Ustream and Livestream’s premium content partner businesses.

The masters of live streaming at NewTeeVee Live

Coming together for Obama

Here’s the second video in the series that Ryan Junell and I produced in support of Barack Obama. Ryan illustrated and animated this, he pulled in some friends for the character voices and type treatment, I came up with the script.

Merry 1982 Christmas

Internet

Have you head of Internet? It’s this amazing unregulated place that has conservative politics, emoticons, leaked manslaughter trial documents and no screenfuls of “GO TO HELL”.

Viacom vs Google, on YouTube

Trying to figure out what the deal is with Viacom suing Google? Serious Corespondent Demetri Martin explains it all on this Daily Show segment (Daily Show is owned by Viacom) hosted here on YouTube (owned by Google of course). The YouTube video was eventually taken down by Viacom, so here it is on Comedy Central.



YouTube Prediction

youtube.png

With the news of YouTube’s $1.65 sellout to Google, I thought I’d take a look at an early email exchange I had with Steve Chen, one of YouTube’s founders. Back in July of last year I tried out YouTube for the first time, as I was hungry for checking out the emerging world of video sites. With in a couple of days, Steve messages me thanking me for trying out the service. This was a couple months before Webzine happened and I pitched Steve on YouTube being a sponsor. Here’s what he to say at the time:

Date: July 24, 2005

hi eddie:

good to hear back from you so quickly!

we should chat some more. i believe the next 6-12 months, we’re going to be experiencing a dramatic shift in personal publishing. i think similar to bloggers vs traditional journalists, similar to podcasters vs traditional broadcasters, we’ll be seeing a similar trend with videoblogging vs traditional media.

furthermore, i think YouTube is special in that it caters to a much wider audience than videobloggers. i see a lot of family videos of babies, friends videos of college, so on.

along these lines, i also think within the next 2 years, the web will become much richer of an experience. video codec incompatibiities will be a thing of the past. so on, so on.

in any case, i’d love to hear your feedback, on-going.

regarding the webzine 2005 — i know about the conference. however, as we’re very much still in a start-up mode that it’ll be difficult for us to drum up the funds to become a sponsor. but who knows, maybe things will change in September. 🙂

-s

Maybe Steve meant October. 🙂 I’ll be hitting you up next year, Steve. He’s right, the web is a much richer experience. Video codec incompatibilities aren’t quite a thing of the past yet, though Flash has done much to get us closer to that day.

%d bloggers like this: