English [en]   Deutsch [de]   español [es]   français [fr]   日本語 [ja]   русский [ru]  

What's Wrong with YouTube

Please cite audio-video.gnu.org as the site for videos of my speeches — not YouTube.

There are two problems with YouTube as a place to post videos or refer to videos.

The free software community has made progress in overcoming these problems. It is getting easier to access YouTube videos (except those with DRM) without running nonfree software. Indeed, the HTML5 Video Everywhere add-on for Firefox (included in IceCat) takes care of this, though it occasionally breaks temporarily when sites change their undocumented APIs.

However, most users don't use such methods, so putting a video on YouTube usually leads people to watch it by running nonfree software.

One thing about YouTube that is not a moral strike against it is nonfree software on YouTube servers — if there is any. We as possible users of YouTube can't tell whether the servers run any nonfree software, because that has no effect on us — therefore it doesn't do wrong to us.

If there are any nonfree programs running on YouTube servers, they mistreat Google by denying Google control of that aspect of its computing. We hope that Google will reclaim its freedom by ceasing to use those nonfree programs, if any. But those programs do not mistreat the users of YouTube, so they are not a reason to refuse to use that service.

Dailymotion and Vimeo have the same problem as YouTube's HTML5 option: viewing their videos in the normal way requires nonfree JavaScript code. If there is any commercial video-hosting platform that doesn't have this problem, please inform us.

To post a video without requiring nonfree software to view it, you can place the video as an Ogg or WebM file on an ordinary web site. If you are concerned there will be a lot of download traffic, you can seed a torrent and suggest people download through that.

Another way to publish videos on the web using free software is GNU MediaGoblin. Ideally you will set up your own server, or run one for your family and friends, but you can also post on public servers.

Please contribute to GNU MediaGoblin if you can.


 [FSF logo] “The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom. We defend the rights of all software users.”

The Free Software Foundation is the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Operating System. Support GNU and the FSF by buying manuals and gear, joining the FSF as an associate member, or making a donation.