These days, YouTube seems to get just about as much press for its lack of money-making ability as it does for all its accolades. Google is obviously trying to find the right way to draw money from the site without ruining it, but it has so far stayed away from perhaps the most obvious form of monetization: Selling videos. Until now.

Google has created a new section in the My Videos area of the site called “Purchases,” Google Operating System has found. This area allows users to easily see the videos they’ve downloaded. A help page on YouTube has more information:

You have the option of downloading and storing your favorite Partner videos and watching these videos even without an internet connection. To download Partner video:

  • Find the video you’d like to download.
  • Below the video’s play bar in the lower left hand corner, you’ll see a ‘Download’ button.
  • Click the ‘Download’ button to indicate that you’d like to download the video.

But the important information which Google places below all of that is that while some videos will be free to download, others will require a payment. For those videos, you will have to use Google Checkout. It’s not yet clear how much these videos will cost, and I can only find free ones available right now.

Google Video, Google’s original online video site which is now only a video search engine, used to sell videos before it stopped sales in 2007 after the company’s purchase of YouTube. But those videos required that you be connected to the Internet to confirm its DRM. These YouTube downloads will not require that connection as the point is to be able to see the videos when you are offline.

If you’re a video-maker hoping to generate sales from YouTube downloads, don’t get too excited yet. As the company notes, only certain partner videos will be available for download right now. The cut those partners will get to take from purchases is not yet clear either.

More importantly, it’s not clear how much of a demand there is for people to download YouTube videos. While it may be nice to download some of the longer ones to put on your portable media device and take on the road, for the majority of videos, streaming them online, for free, will more than likely be enough.

Update: YouTube has just posted an entry on its blog outlining the feature, and, not surprisingly highlights the offline factor rather than the paying factor. The post notes that partners will be able to sell videos for a “small fee” but then goes on to say that they will be able to set their own prices — so which is it?

The post also notes that partners will be able to determine which Creative Commons distribution license they wish to use to protect their work. To me, that makes it seem unlikely that any of the big partners, like television and movie studios, will allow their videos to be downloaded, since it doesn’t seem like DRM is an option.


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