YouTube blocks mobile video encoder

Why have something free when you can pay for it?

YouTube has blocked a small company from making YouTube videos available on mobile phones. The action came just days after YouTube announced its own mobile deal with US mobile phone operator Verizon.

TinyTube used to encode YouTube video so that it was available to view on mobile phones, but was stopped late last year by YouTube, which contacted it and said that that encoding violated the YouTube terms and conditions.

TinyTube posted a comment on its forums on 30th November explaining that YouTube videos would no longer be available. YouTube and Verizon announced their tie up on 28th November.

TinyTube's Allen Day confirmed that it believed that the shutdown was due to the Verizon deal. "We were informed by YT their action was largely due to pressure from their new mobile partner, Verizon," he told OUT-LAW.

YouTube's initial contact with the company suggested that there could be a commercial relationship between the two, but those hopes quickly faded.

"TinyTube used to have YouTube video available on the site," said Day. "YouTube contacted TinyTube to request TinyTube stop redistributing content. In the interest of developing a working relationship with YouTube [we] obliged. Shortly after, negotiations with YouTube stalled and are unlikely to resume."

In the original forum posting, TinyTube seemed to be encouraged by the possibility of a deal. "YouTube expressed enthusiasm for the work we're doing here to deliver their content to mobile devices, so we're currently working together to find a solution to bring the content back online in a way that does not violate the YouTube Terms of Service," it said.

YouTube did not respond to a request for comment from OUT-LAW.

TinyTube said that it had not thought that it was breaking YouTube's rules. "TinyTube maintains that it simply acts as a transcoding proxy to allow mobile devices to access content otherwise inaccessible to mobile handsets," said Day.

The move by YouTube could mark a shift in its attitudes in the wake of its October acquisition by Google. Since then the previously small company has signed a raft of deals with some of the biggest names in entertainment and communications.

Alongside the mobile distribution deal with Verizon it has signed content use deals with Warner, Universal and Sony BMG, as well as promotional deals with television network NBC. The dealmaking reflects owner Google's need to receive a return on its investment.

The search engine giant paid for YouTube with $1.65bn in shares. By the time the deal was actually completed the value of those shares had risen to $1.79bn.

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