YouTube to Test Charge-to-Download Program

In what has been dubbed a "test" initiative, YouTube is permitting select video publishers to charge users to download videos onto their computers.

At present a selection of YouTubers can offer video downloads, either for free or at cost, paid via Google Checkout. Most participating videos are charging about $1 each, TechCrunch reports.

In addition to determining download rate, partners can also decide what form of licensing to give users: whether the video is restricted to private non-commercial use (much like DVDs of feature films and TV shows), or whether they can be repurposed by users under a Creative Commons license.

A handful of universities, including UC Berkeley, Stanford and Duke, are also testing free downloads of lectures and events via YouTube.

YouTube recently inked a deal with William Morris, a major Hollywood talent agency whose client roster includes Russell Crowe and Condoleezza Rice. It also broadened an existing ecommerce effort that enables labels to monetize videos featuring licensed music. When users watch the content, they have the option to buy the featured song via Amazon, iTunes or direct from the record company.

In the month of December, YouTube fueled 13% growth in US online video viewing, comScore reports.

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