RealNetworks is set to release its new player on Tuesday. The desktop application allows users to scroll over online video in all major formats and save them to a hard drive. Videos with digital rights management cannot be saved, but a vast majority of Flash files can be.
Virtually the entire YouTube library can be downloaded. Unauthorized downloading of YouTube by various hacks has been a big no no. When TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington posted some hacks on his site, YouTube’s lawyers sent him a cease and desist order.
This is an issue of concern for both YouTube and its content partners who share in advertising revenue. Companies with channels on YouTube, including Ford Models and Beet.TV, derive revenue from viewship of their "play" pages. Meaning, banners that surround videos on specific channels generate revenue which is shared.
If the file is pulled by using the RealNetworks player, the contextual advertising is lost. Other services are pulling YouTube clips without contextual banner ads. StumbleUpon, which was purchased by eBay is one, Magnify.net is another.
For some content creators, loosing ad revenue and gaining viewership is a plus. As publisher of Beet.TV, I’m really pleased that our YouTube clips will be shared and downloaded as broadly as possible. Others are not going to be as pleased.
Update: Here’s a relevent article on this topic by Reuters via CNET.
— Andy Plesser