The problems YouTube recently had in India and Brazil illustrate the limits to automation when dealing with video content. What people who accuse Youtube do not understand is that Youtube, as well as eBay and other giants on the internet, rely on the fact that most people are actually honest and that if they are not other people will point that out. But this self policed system, already hard to understand to many in USA, in developing countries, who are used to video as delivered by regulated broadcasting companies, it is just too hard to comprehend.

How can Youtube –now owned by Google, a company that is worth many times more than the GDP of some LDCs– say it cannot afford enough people to police their site? To me the answer is not that it cannot afford them but that doing so destroys the Youtube business model.

Personally I suffered this problem this week. Youtube published a video that showed how Imams train radical Muslims in the UK. By the time I linked to this video it had been watched by half a million people but a day after I linked to it the video disappeared due to copyright violations. While I was annoyed and hate to see blog posts erased, I understood the situation and in the future I will link to Youtube again knowing that many Youtube videos come and go. I will do this because I believe in the Youtube model and want to support it. Indeed I think that self policing is one of the great things about democracy. But I do hope that others feel the same way and that the Youtube that we now know survives intact.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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nick robinson on January 21, 2007  · 

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