Google's YouTube is opening up to much longer videos. Back in July, YouTube expanded the maximum upload time to 15 minutes, but today the video site announced a much longer length of time for select users.
"So go find that movie you wrote and filmed last year and share it with the world! Or upload your sons championship high school basketball game or the insightful lecture you just gave on the emerging economics of green tech. As long as it's your original content, it's fair game regardless of length," YouTube said in a blog post announcing the change.
Hollywood studios and others have sued YouTube over charges of copyright infringement leading the company to develop and deploy a number of copyright protection schemes. In today's announcement, YouTube was careful to note that the longer video uploads will only be available to "selected users with a history of complying with the YouTube Community Guidelines and our copyright rules."
Analyst Tim Bajarin said the expansion is a smart move by YouTube that opens up potentially new revenue streams.
"This could spur another growth in YouTube's business model as longer videos mean more potential advertising opportunities," Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies, told InternetNews.com. "There is also greater opportunity for more targeted ads, like a music store advertising on a guitar video."
Google, which bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion, has refused to say whether the video sharing site is profitable, but has said it's happy with the site's progress. During an earnings call with analysts in October, Google said YouTube is monetizing more than 2 billion views each week, up 50 percent from a year earlier.
Bajarin said the longer videos are a mixed blessing for IT. On the one hand, it gives companies an easier way to broadcast things like executive speeches, reports and training videos to employees. On the other hand, entertainment and other non-work-related videos can be a distraction and impact employee productivity.
"But that's not just YouTube, that's part of the broader issue of how to manage streaming media in general that can bring networks to a crawl and the guidelines companies choose to enforce about social media, video and things of that nature," he said. "Of course the Cisco's of the world love anything that encourages longer video and greater network traffic because that increases the demand for their routers and switches."
YouTube credited advances to its Content ID system and other tools it provides copyright owners for enabling longer form videos. The company said over 1,000 partners use Content ID to manage their content on YouTube, including every major U.S. movie studio and music label.