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YouTube, LLC
Type Subsidiary of Googlelimited liability company
Foundation date February 14, 2005
Headquarters 901 Cherry Ave, San Bruno,
United States
Area served Worldwide
Founder(s) Steve ChenChad Hurley,Jawed Karim
Key people Salar Kamangar (CEO)
Chad Hurley (Advisor)
Industry Internet
Parent Independent (2005–2006)
Google (2006–present)
Slogan(s) Broadcast Yourself (2005-2012)
(see list of localized domain names)
Written in Python[1]
Alexa rank Steady 3 (December 2012)[2]
Type of site Video hosting service
Advertising Google AdSense
Registration Optional (Only required for certain tasks such as viewing flagged videos, viewing flagged comments and uploading videos)
Available in 54 language versions available through user interface[3]
Launched February 14, 2005
Current status Active

YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos.[4] The company is based in San Bruno, California, and uses Adobe Flash Video and HTML5 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, short original videos, and educational videos.

Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals, although media corporations including CBS, the BBCVEVOHulu, and other organizations offer some of their material via the site, as part of the YouTube partnership program.[5] Unregistered users can watch videos, while registered users can upload an unlimited number of videos. Videos considered to contain potentially offensive content are available only to registered users at least 18 years old. In November 2006, YouTube, LLC was bought by Google for US$1.65 billion, and now operates as a subsidiary of Google.



Company history

From left to right: Chad HurleySteve Chen, and Jawed Karim

YouTube was founded by Chad HurleySteve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal.[6] Hurley had studied design atIndiana University of Pennsylvania, while Chen and Karim studied computer science together at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[7]

According to a story that has often been repeated in the media, Hurley and 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. Karim did not attend the party and denied that it had occurred, while Chen 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”.[8]

YouTube began as a venture-funded technology startup, primarily from a $11.5 million investment by Sequoia Capital between November 2005 and April 2006.[9] YouTube’s early headquarters were situated above a pizzeria and Japanese restaurant in San Mateo, California.[10] The domain name was activated on February 14, 2005, and the website was developed over the subsequent months.[11]

The first YouTube video was entitled Me at the zoo, and shows co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo.[12]The video was uploaded on April 23, 2005, and can still be viewed on the site.[13]

YouTube’s former logo, used from 2006 to 2011, with different color gradient.[14]

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.[15] 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 14 billion videos viewed in May 2010.[16] YouTube says that roughly 60 hours of new videos are uploaded to the site every minute, and that around three quarters of the material comes from outside the U.S.[17][18][19] The site has eight hundred million unique users a month.[20] It is estimated that in 2007 YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000.[21] Alexa ranks YouTube as the third most visited website on the Internet, behind Google and Facebook.[22]

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[23][24] In October 2006, Google Inc. announced that it had acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in Googlestock, and the deal was finalized on November 13, 2006.[25] 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.[26] In June 2008, a Forbes magazine article projected the 2008 revenue at $200 million, noting progress in advertising sales.[27] Visitors to YouTube spend an average of fifteen minutes a day on the site, in contrast to the four or five hours a day spent by a typical U.S. citizen watching television.[20]

YouTube entered into a marketing and advertising partnership with NBC in June 2006.[28] In November 2008, YouTube reached an agreement with MGMLions 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 NBCFox, and Disney.[29][30] In November 2009, YouTube launched a version of “Shows” available to UK viewers, offering around 4,000 full-length shows from more than 60 partners.[31] In January 2010, YouTube introduced an online film rentals service,[32] which is currently available only to users in the US, Canada and the UK.[33][34] The service offers over 6,000 films.[35]

YouTube’s current headquarters inSan Bruno, California

In March 2010, YouTube began free streaming of certain content, including 60 cricket matches of the Indian Premier League. According to YouTube, this was the first worldwide free online broadcast of a major sporting event.[36]

On March 31, 2010, the YouTube website launched a new design, with the aim of simplifying the interface and increasing the time users spend on the site. Google product manager Shiva Rajaraman commented: “We really felt like we needed to step back and remove the clutter.”[37] In May 2010, it was reported that YouTube was serving more than two billion videos a day, which it described as “nearly double the prime-time audience of all three major US television networks combined”.[38] In May 2011, YouTube reported in its company blog that the site was receiving more than three billion views per day.[18] In January 2012, YouTube stated that the figure had increased to four billion videos streamed per day.[17]

In October 2010, Hurley announced that he would be stepping down as chief executive officer of YouTube to take an advisory role, and that Salar Kamangar would take over as head of the company.[39]

In April 2011, James Zern, a YouTube software engineer, revealed that 30 percent of videos accounted for 99 percent of views on the site.[40]

In November 2011, the Google+ social networking site was integrated directly with YouTube and the Chrome web browser, allowing YouTube videos to be viewed from within the Google+ interface.[41] In December 2011, YouTube launched a new version of the site interface, with the video channels displayed in a central column on the home page, similar to the news feeds of social networking sites.[42] At the same time, a new version of the YouTube logo was introduced with a darker shade of red, the first change in design since October 2006.[43]


Video technology


Viewing YouTube videos on a personal computer requires the Adobe Flash Player plug-in to be installed on 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.[44]

In January 2010, YouTube launched an experimental version of the site that uses the built-in multimedia capabilities of web browsers supporting the HTML5 standard.[45] This allows videos to be viewed without requiring Adobe Flash Player or any other plug-in to be installed.[46][47] The YouTube site has a page that allows supported browsers to opt in to the HTML5 trial. Only browsers that support HTML5 Video using the H.264 or WebM formats can play the videos, and not all videos on the site are available.[48][49]


All YouTube users can upload videos up to 15 minutes each in duration. Users who have a good track record of complying with the site’s Community Guidelines may be offered the ability to upload videos up to 12 hours in length, which requires verifying the account, normally through a mobile phone.[50] When YouTube was launched in 2005, it was possible to upload long 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.[51][52] The 10-minute limit was increased to 15 minutes in July 2010.[53] File size is limited to 2 GB for uploads from the YouTube web page, or 20 GB if up-to-date browser versions are used.[54]

YouTube accepts videos uploaded in most container formats, including .AVI.MKV.MOV.MP4DivX.FLV, and .ogg and .ogv. These include video formats such as MPEG-4MPEGVOB, and .WMV. It also supports 3GP, allowing videos to be uploaded from mobile phones.[55] Videos with progressive scanning or interlaced scanning can be uploaded, but for the best video quality, YouTube suggests interlaced videos are deinterlaced prior to uploading. All the video formats on YouTube use progressive scanning.[56]

Quality and codecs

YouTube originally offered videos at only one quality level, displayed at a resolution of 320×240 pixels using the Sorenson Spark codec (a variant of H.263),[57][58] with mono MP3 audio.[59] In June 2007, YouTube added an option to watch videos in 3GP format on mobile phones.[60] In March 2008, a high quality mode was added, which increased the resolution to 480×360 pixels.[61]In November 2008, 720p HD support was added. At the time of the 720p launch, the YouTube player was changed from a 4:3 aspect ratio to a widescreen 16:9.[62] With this new feature, YouTube began a switchover to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC as its default video compression format. In November 2009, 1080p HD support was added. In July 2010, YouTube announced that it had launched a range of videos in 4K format, which allows a resolution of up to 4096×3072 pixels.[63][64] However, it was lowered to 2048 x 1536 as of 2012.

YouTube videos are available in a range of quality levels. The former names of standard quality (SQ), high quality (HQ) and high definition (HD) have been replaced by numerical values representing the vertical resolution of the video. The default video stream is encoded in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format, with stereo AAC audio.[65]

Comparison of YouTube media encoding options
itag value[1] Default container Video resolution Video encoding Video profile Video bitrate (Mbit/s) [2] Audio encoding Audio bitrate (kbit/s) [2]
5 FLV 240p Sorenson H.263 N/A 0.25 MP3 64
6 FLV 270p Sorenson H.263 N/A 0.8 MP3 64
13 3GP N/A MPEG-4 Visual N/A 0.5 AAC N/A
17 3GP 144p MPEG-4 Visual Simple 0.05 AAC 24
18 MP4 360p H.264 Baseline 0.5 AAC 96
22 MP4 720p H.264 High 2-2.9 AAC 192
34 FLV 360p H.264 Main 0.5 AAC 128
35 FLV 480p H.264 Main 0.8-1 AAC 128
36 3GP 240p MPEG-4 Visual Simple 0.17 AAC 38
37 MP4 1080p H.264 High 3–4.3 AAC 192
38 MP4 3072p H.264 High 3.5-5 AAC 192
43 WebM 360p VP8 N/A 0.5 Vorbis 128
44 WebM 480p VP8 N/A 1 Vorbis 128
45 WebM 720p VP8 N/A 2 Vorbis 192
46 WebM 1080p VP8 N/A N/A Vorbis 192
82 MP4 360p H.264 3D 0.5 AAC 96
83 MP4 240p H.264 3D 0.5 AAC 96
84 MP4 720p H.264 3D 2-2.9 AAC 152
85 MP4 520p H.264 3D 2-2.9 AAC 152
100 WebM 360p VP8 3D N/A Vorbis 128
101 WebM 360p VP8 3D N/A Vorbis 192
102 WebM 720p VP8 3D N/A Vorbis 192
120[3] FLV 720p AVC Main@L3.1 2 AAC 128

^ 1 itag is an undocumented parameter used internally by YouTube to differentiate between quality profiles. Until December 2010, there was also a URL parameter known as fmt that allowed a user to force a profile using itag codes.
^ 2 Approximate values based on statistical data; actual bitrate can be higher or lower due to variable encoding rate.
^ 3 itag 120 is for live streaming and has metadata referring to “Elemental Technologies Live”.

3D videos

In a video posted on July 21, 2009,[70] 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.[71][72][73] The YouTube Flash player can display stereoscopic content interleaved in rows, columns or a checkerboard pattern, side-by-side or anaglyph using a red/cyan, green/magenta or blue/yellow combination. In May 2011, an HTML5 version of the YouTube player began supporting side-by-side 3D footage that is compatible with Nvidia 3D Vision.[74]

Content accessibility

YouTube offers users the ability to view its videos on web pages outside their website. Each YouTube video is accompanied by a piece of HTML that can be used to embed it on any page on the Web. This functionality is often used to embed YouTube videos in social networking pages and blogs.[75] Embedding, as well as ranking and commenting, can be disabled by the video owner.

YouTube does not usually offer a download link for its videos, and intends for them to be viewed through its website interface.[76] A small number of videos, such as the weekly addresses by President Barack Obama, can be downloaded as MP4 files.[77] Numerous third-party web sites, applications and browser plug-ins allow users to download YouTube videos.[78] 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.[79]


Some smartphones are capable of accessing YouTube videos, dependent on the provider and the data plan. YouTube Mobile was launched in June 2007, using RTSP streaming for the video.[80] Not all of YouTube’s videos are available on the mobile version of the site.[81]

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 TViPod Touch and the iPhone.[82] In July 2010, the mobile version of the site was relaunched based on HTML5, avoiding the need to use Adobe Flash Player and optimized for use with touch screen controls.[83] The mobile version is also available as an app for the Androidplatform.[84][85] In September 2012, YouTube launched its first app for the iPhone, following the decision to drop YouTube as one of the preloaded apps in the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 operating system.[86]

TiVo service update in July 2008 allowed the system to search and play YouTube videos.[87] 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.[88][89] In June 2009, YouTube XL was introduced, which has a simplified interface designed for viewing on a standard television screen.[90] YouTube is also available for the Xbox Live.[91] On November 15, 2012, Google launched an official app for the Wii, allowing users to watch YouTube videos from the Wii channel.[92] An app is also available for Wii U, and videos can be viewed on the Wii U Internet Browserusing HTML5.[93]


On June 19, 2007, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was in Paris to launch the new localization system.[94] The interface of the website is available with localized versions in 42 countries, one territory (Hong Kong) and a worldwide version.[95][96]

Country Language Launch date
 USA (and worldwide launch) English (American) February 15, 2005[94]
 Brazil Portuguese (Brazil) June 19, 2007[94]
 France French, and Basque June 19, 2007[94]
 Ireland English (Ireland) June 19, 2007[94]
 Italy Italian June 19, 2007[94]
 Japan Japanese June 19, 2007[94]
 Netherlands Dutch June 19, 2007[94]
 Poland Polish June 19, 2007[94]
 Spain SpanishCatalan, and Basque June 19, 2007[94]
 United Kingdom English (United Kingdom) June 19, 2007[94]
 Mexico Spanish (Mexico) October 11, 2007[97]
 Hong Kong English and Chinese (Traditional) October 17, 2007[98]
 Taiwan Chinese (Traditional) October 18, 2007[99]
 Australia English (Australia) October 22, 2007[100]
 New Zealand English (New Zealand) October 22, 2007[100]
 Canada English (Canada) and French (Canada) November 6, 2007[101]
 Germany German November 8, 2007[102]
 Russia Russian November 13, 2007[103]
South Korea Korea, South Korean January 23, 2008[104]
 Israel Hebrew and English (Israel) September 16, 2008
 India English (India) and Hindi May 7, 2008[105]
 Czech Republic Czech October 9, 2008[106]
 Sweden Swedish October 22, 2008[107]
 South Africa English (South African) and Afrikaans May 17, 2010[94]
 Argentina Spanish (Argentina) September 8, 2010[95]
 Algeria Arabic and French March 9, 2011[108]
 Egypt Arabic March 9, 2011[108]
 Saudi Arabia Arabic March 9, 2011[108]
 Tunisia Arabic and French March 9, 2011[108]
 Jordan Arabic March 9, 2011[108]
 Morocco Arabic and French March 9, 2011[108]
 Yemen Arabic March 9, 2011[108]
 Kenya English (Kenya) and Swahili September 1, 2011[109]
 Philippines English (official) and Filipino October 13, 2011[110]
 Singapore English (Singapore) October 20, 2011[111]
 Belgium Dutch (Belgian), and French (Belgian) November 16, 2011[94]
 Colombia Spanish (Colombia) November 30, 2011[112]
 Uganda English (Ugandan) December 2, 2011[113]
 Nigeria English (Nigerian) December 7, 2011[114]
 Chile Spanish (Chile) January 20, 2012[115]
 Hungary Hungarian February 29, 2012[116]
 Malaysia English (Malaysian) and Malay March 22, 2012[117]
 Peru Spanish (Peru) March 25, 2012[118]
 United Arab Emirates Arabic and English (UAE) March 29, 2012[108]
 Greece Greek May 1, 2012
 Indonesia English (Indonesia) and Indonesian June 14, 2012[119]
 Ghana English (Ghanaian) June 21, 2012[120]
 Senegal English (Senegalese) and French July 12, 2012[121]
 Turkey Turkish October 1, 2012[122]
 Ukraine Ukrainian December 13, 2012[123]

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.[124]

The interface of the YouTube website is available in 54 different language versions, including Catalan, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian and Slovene, which do not have local channel versions.[3]

Access to YouTube was blocked in Turkey between 2008 and 2010, following controversy over the posting of videos deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and some material offensive to Muslims.[125][126] In October 2012, a local version of YouTube was launched in Turkey, with the domain The local version is subject to the content regulations found inTurkish law.[127]

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.[128] In April 2009, a similar dispute led to the removal of premium music videos for users in Germany.[129]

April Fools

YouTube has featured an April Fools prank on the site on April 1 of every year since 2008:

  • 2008: All the links to the videos on the main page were redirected to Rick Astley‘s music video “Never Gonna Give You Up“, a prank known as “Rickrolling“.[130][131]
  • 2009: When clicking on a video on the main page, the whole page turned upside down. YouTube claimed that this was a new layout.[132]
  • 2010: YouTube temporarily released a “TEXTp” mode, which translated the colors in the videos to random upper case letters. YouTube claimed in a message that this was done in order to reduce bandwidth costs by $1 per second.[133]
  • 2011: The site celebrated its “100th anniversary” with a “1911 button” and a range of sepia-toned silent, early 1900s-style films, including “Flugelhorn Feline”, a parody of Keyboard Cat.[134]
  • 2012: Clicking on the image of a DVD next to the site logo led to a video about “The YouTube Collection”, an option to order every YouTube video for home delivery on DVDvideocassette,Laser Disc, or Betamax tapes. The spoof promotional video promised “It’s the complete YouTube experience completely offline.”[135]

Social impact

Gangnam Style” is YouTube’s most-viewed video (as of 2012) and the first video to be viewed more than a billion times.[136]

While other video hosting websites had been launched before YouTube in 2005 (including Metacafe in 2003 and Vimeo in 2004), YouTube was conceived to be, in the words of Jawed Karim, a video version of the rating site Hot or Not. Karim commented that Hot or Not was a site “where anyone could upload content that everyone else could view. That was a new concept because up until that point, it was always the people who owned the website who would provide the content.” In December 2006, Time magazine wrote: “YouTube is to video browsing what a Wal-MartSupercenter is to shopping: everything is there, and all you have to do is walk in the door.”[8]

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.[137] Another YouTube video to receive extensive coverage is guitar,[138] which features a performance of Pachelbel’s Canon on an electric guitar. The name of the performer is not given in the video. After it received millions of views The New York Times revealed the identity of the guitarist as Lim Jeong-hyun, a 23-year-old from South Korea who had recorded the track in his bedroom.[139] This video has since been removed from YouTube.[140]

The most viewed video on YouTube is the music video of the song Gangnam Style by PSY.[141] It was added to the site on July 15, 2012, and became the first YouTube video to receive over 1 billion views on December 21, 2012.[142] The video has inspired numerous parodies.[143]

Charlie Bit My Finger“, which was uploaded on May 22, 2007, is a viral video that has received the most views of any user-generated YouTube video, with over 450 million views.[144][145][146] The clip features two English brothers, with one-year-old Charlie biting the finger of his brother Harry, aged three.[147] In Time‘s list of YouTube’s 50 greatest viral videos of all time, “Charlie Bit My Finger” was ranked at number one.[148]

YouTube was awarded a 2008 Peabody Award and cited for being “a ‘Speakers’ Corner’ that both embodies and promotes democracy”.[149][150]

In December 2009, Entertainment Weekly placed YouTube on its end-of-the-decade “best-of” list, describing it as: “Providing a safe home for piano-playing cats, celeb goof-ups, and overzealous lip-synchers since 2005.”[151]

Community policy

YouTube has a set of community guidelines aimed to reduce abuse of the site’s features. Generally prohibited material includes sexually explicit content, videos of animal abuse, shock videos, content uploaded without the copyright holder’s consent, hate speech, spam, and predatory behaviour.[152] Despite the guidelines, YouTube has faced criticism from news sources for content in violation of these guidelines.

Copyrighted material

At the time of uploading a video, YouTube users are shown a screen with the message “Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts or advertisements without permission, unless they consist entirely of content that you created yourself”.[153] Despite this advice, there are still many unauthorized clips of copyrighted material on YouTube. YouTube does not view videos before they are posted online, and it is left to copyright holders to issue a takedown notice pursuant to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Three successful complaints forcopyright infringement against a user account will result in the account and all of its uploaded videos being deleted.[154][155]

Organizations including ViacomMediaset, and the English Premier League have filed lawsuits against YouTube, claiming that it has done too little to prevent the uploading of copyrighted material.[156][157][158] Viacom, demanding $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”.[159] During the same court battle, Viacom won a court ruling requiring YouTube to hand over 12 terabytes of data detailing the viewing habits of every user who has watched videos on the site. The decision was criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called the court ruling “a setback to privacy rights”.[160][161] In June 2010, Viacom’s lawsuit against Google was rejected in a summary judgment, with U.S. federal Judge Louis L. Stanton stating that Google was protected by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Viacom announced its intention to appeal the ruling.[162]

On April 5, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated the case, allowing Viacom’s lawsuit against Google to be heard in court again.[163]

In August 2008, a US 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 useof 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.[164]

In the case of Smith v. Summit Entertainment LLC, professional singer Matt Smith sued Summit Entertainment for the wrongful use of copyright takedown notice on YouTube. He asserted seven causes of action, and four were ruled in Smith’s favor.[165]

In April 2012, a court in Hamburg ruled that YouTube could be held responsible for copyrighted material posted by its users. The performance rights organization GEMA argued that YouTube had not done enough to prevent the uploading of German copyrighted music. YouTube responded by stating: “We remain committed to finding a solution to the music licensing issue in Germany that will benefit artists, composers, authors, publishers and record labels, as well as the wider YouTube community”.[166]

Youtube 2