Google Preps Video Distribution Service

While online music stores begin to gain acceptance among the recording industry and consumers alike, Google is looking to a future beyond just audio. The company is preparing a video distribution platform that provides a complete ecosystem of services for content producers, publishers and end-users.

Google began testing its prototype video search engine in January, which scours the closed captioning text of television shows from a variety of channels. Users can view still images from a segment, but due to unsettled licensing issues, cannot see video clips nor read full transcripts.

That may be about to change, however. Google is rolling out the first phase of its Video Upload Program, which was briefly outlined by company co-founder Larry Page last week. The program enables users to sign up and upload their personal videos to Google, where they will be indexed and integrated into search results.

But Google doesn't plan to simply create a vast archive of "video blogs." Instead, content owners will be able to control distribution rights themselves, even setting a price for their video clips. Eventually, users will be able to search, preview, purchase and play videos directly from within Google.

In order to ensure copyrights are protected, the company says it is putting "number of measures in place to prevent copying or sharing." Google hasn't specified what digital rights management technology it will be using, but the company is famous for its in-house development with Google Labs.

Google has already created a software tool to handle video uploads using a broadband connection. The feature highlights the search giant's size advantage over potential rival services such as iFilm and AtomFilms, which require wanna-be directors to mail in physical media.

Page may have called the service an "experiment," but Google is ostensibly eyeing the potential for revenue. The company will take a cut of all video purchases to "cover some of its costs." Google is also directly courting television stations and production facilities with hundreds of hours of video.

A Google spokesperson told BetaNews it was not ready to discuss long-term plans, saying, "It's still too early to know what the product will be specifically. Today's announcement is just the first step in the ongoing process."

For now, Google must first build up an index of content to prove its video search and distribution system is viable.

"At this time, we're only collecting videos for potential inclusion in the program," the company says. "We're accepting digital video files of any length and size. So if you have a video - or hundreds of videos - that you want the world to see, show us what you've got, and stay tuned."

However, Google does have one caveat in its upload terms: "The video must not contain pornographic or obscene material."

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