Michael Arrington of the increasingly influential TechCrunch, has been served with a very harsh demand letter to cease and desist from YouTube’s powerhouse attorneys Wilson Sonsini.

Michael posted a "crack" earlier this week: advice on how to download YouTube video clips as files to be saved on a computer or iPod.  Seems like his post has gotten the YouTube folks up in arms.   

I thought his post was interesting and linked to it from Beet.TV yesterday, but I took the link down too, just to be cautious.  We don’t want any legal problems here, that’s for sure.

It will be interesting to follow the issue of downloadable video and YouTube.  Presently, YouTube publishes in Flash, the ubiquitous program from Adobe that plays easily on nearly all browsers; however, these files are not easy to download, so Arrington and others have provided tips.

Google Video, which just finalized its acquisition of YouTube this week, provides downloads of its Flash files in the form of special Google Video files, called .gvi.  Some file downloads are free, like your favorite clips from Beet.TV, and other clips are charged on a per download basis.

Also, Adobe is preparing to launch a new program to download Flash files in a project code-named Apollo, which will come out next year.  Chris Hock told me about this recently.

I think it’s inevitable that YouTube files will be downloadable – consumers will demand this – but better not jump the gun!

Andy Plesser

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