Friday Free Business Ideas: YouTube scraping

December 29, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here

Joe Suh from My Church emailed me this interesting business idea to share with you.

Hosting videos is bandwidth and cost intensive, so let Youtube worry about those costs. In the meantime, aggregate and embed their popular videos on your own website and surround them with google adsense.

Sites have already started to exploit this:

But wait! Before you try this or accuse me of encouraging unethical behavior, know that it violates Youtube’s TOS (article 5F):

YouTube permits you to link to materials on the Website for personal, non-commercial purposes only. In addition, YouTube provides an “Embeddable Player” feature, which you may incorporate into your own personal, non-commercial websites for use in accessing the materials on the Website, provided that you include a prominent link back to the YouTube website on the pages containing the Embeddable Player. YouTube reserves the right to discontinue any aspect of the YouTube Website at any time.

It is certainly possible to aggregate legally. You can link directly to the video source instead of embedding (like But I imagine we’re going to see lots of video scraping and embedding in 2007, as aggregated and vertical video content sites becomes popular.

So in summary:

  1. Find popular Google/Youtube/Metacafe videos about a certain topic or channel
  2. Link to these videos on your own site (embedding violates TOS!)
  3. Work in some SEO and link bait (like this You_gotta_see_it_to_believe_it_Shaq_destroys_entire_goal_post)
  4. Profit from your adsense while YouTube pays the bandwidth bill.

Will YouTube enforce its terms of service? What precedence will be set if they force a site like viralvideochart to cease and desist? What about a blog that has “commercial” adsense – can the blogger embed lots of Youtube videos? What about sites that let its users do the embedding – who’s liable there?

Interesting questions when the widget that turned YouTube into a household name can potentially become a profitable tool of scrapers and leeches.

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11 responses to “Friday Free Business Ideas: YouTube scraping

  1. Raphael Kang Reply

    I have a blog post request:

    Noah’s Goals for Year 2007.

    And then keep accountable to them throughout the years (while being flexible, of course.)

    And please make the goals interesting unlike mine. 🙂

  2. mroonie Reply

    Hey Noah!

    It’s been a while eh? Just came on to say Happy Holidays. And thanks for the YouTube tip. That was definitely a useful tip to know. Looking forward to seeing your New Year’s Resolution list for 2007!

  3. grant Reply

    In fact, both embed video code and link back have been explored extensively in porn industry. There are literally thousands of these kind of porn video embed sites while most of them make money out of 2nd tier ad network because google adsense strictly forbid porn content while yahoo overture is still in beta; The major problem with this is just like blogging, you have to work your ass off searching for content and post, most of people get tired of it pretty soon.

  4. Berry Reply

    I’ve had an idea for awhile using YouTube and Google video….

    …. I wanted to make a site like, “DESTROY YOUR CREDIT CARDS” then see what kind of cool and excessively violent ways to tear up those little plastic cards that cause people so much stress.

    I bet this time of year people would be all over that… but tying back in to the idea… suppose you set up a site like that… how do you get thousands of people to hit it to get the revenue off of the click ads?

    Really, if someone can answer THAT question for me I’d be owin’ ya one.

  5. Scott Button Reply

    They know and we know that this is against TOS. My guess is that YouTube / Google will tolerate obviously commercial sites like digg, FHM and us embedding their videos until / unless they decide that incorporating ads into the videostream is unviable. If ads go into the videostream then we all start driving revenue for the hosting sites.

    Interestingly, our business is geared more to data provision than advertising, and some of the large commercial sites to whom we provide chart data are also choosing to embed the video content…

  6. Joe Suh Reply

    Interesting Scott. Thanks for sharing, and good luck to you. I had no idea viralvideochart is providing services for other commercial sites. I’ll check out your blog to learn more, but would you be able to name some of your clients that pay to use your charts?

    Here’s a blog entry you might find interesting (from Lightspeed Ventures) about the paradigm shift in video/internet/tv