YouTube Offering DRM-Free Video Downloads (GOOG)

Google’s (GOOG) YouTube video service is now offering visitors the ability to download high-quality, DRM-free video files — at least for a few of its videos. It looks like president elect Barack Obama’s ChangeDotGov channel is the only one with “Click to download” links on its video pages. But it makes sense that YouTube could eventually expand this feature to more producers.

What’s the point? Perhaps Google is just building in a few remaining features from its Google Video service into YouTube.

But could this — eventually, someday down the road — become the beginning of a YouTube video store?

Google’s tried to make money from YouTube so far by selling ads. But that hasn’t made the company much money yet — and it’s often hard to advertise around “long tail” user-generated content. So offering producers another revenue source — paid downloads, from which Google takes a cut — might not be a terrible idea.

Indie producers, who will try anything to make a buck, will probably be the most interested in a feature like that. But record labels, who have increasingly sold music files without copyright protection, might someday open up to the idea of selling downloadable music videos — for offline playback, iPods, etc. — through YouTube, too. Especially if it gives them any more leverage against Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes.

See Also:
Google Puts YouTube Video On Wii And PS3… And Not Xbox
YouTube Commenters: Who Needs Them?
YouTube Music Videos Great For Labels, But Google Making Bupkis

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