This Ain't Your Children's YouTube ...

Google bought YouTube for something like a bazillion dollars last week. Is this a deathknell for the popular video clip service, or the start of an even bigger, better Internet library?

Last week, Google Inc., the Mountain View-based company that revolutionized the way people scour the Web and collect information, announced it was purchasing the online video clip service YouTube for the staggering price of $1.6 billion. YouTube, which was founded a year and a half ago by two twentysomethings in Menlo Park, has exploded in popularity over the past year, as the world has zealously shared and exchanged its video clips — both personal and copyrighted. Indeed, industry analysts and Web users alike have already voiced concerns about what the deal means for the future of free video on the Internet; as YouTube becomes more respectable and gains more attention, its lawyers will undoubtedly face increased pressure to reign in or remove offending material. Google, however, is promising to retain the integrity that's made YouTube such a phenomenon. Are you an apologist for the YouTube-Google merger? Take our quiz and find out!

1) Do you think YouTube is worth $1.65 billion?

A) No. But then again, I'm the guy who thought America's Funniest Home Videos wasn't folksy enough to last.

B) Well, that depends. Does YouTube still have the video of the sleeping kitten? 'Cause that's worth, like, $1 billion right there.

C) No. But it is worth six trillion crispy chicken sandwiches from Wendy's. (Bonus point for adding: "See? Some of us old-fashioned types still watch TV.")

2) In the first major mass removal of content in its history, YouTube last week took down nearly 30,000 videos from its site after being contacted by the Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publishers. The 29,549 files, which infringed on the rights of 23 Japanese content companies, are mostly entertainment and music TV programs and were discovered during a five-day audit of the site that started Oct. 2. Do you think this is the start of the "sanitizing" of YouTube?

A) Absolutely. Can you imagine the consequences when a nation that produces genuine entertainment finds out about this?

B) Nah. There are still plenty of really awful Japanese music videos on there.

C) Oh, no! Now I'll only be able to get my ripped-off anime from Limewire, and from my friends at work, and from www.yousendit.com, and ...

3) YouTube is only one of several Internet sites that offers streaming video. The Fox-owned MySpace.com actually serves up the most video streams on the Net, with about 20 percent, and Yahoo (which links to YouTube clips) is second. YouTube, in third place, hopes to gain ground on these competitors through its Google partnership. Which of the services do you think will eventually be the most popular?

A) Whichever service best allows teenagers to tape themselves threatening their principal. Isn't it obvious?

B) Hmm, that's tough ... OK, the porn one.

C) My money's on Yahoo. Also, I invested heavily in wooden nickels.

4) In your time browsing the YouTube library, what clip has emerged as your favorite?

A) Well, there's this one video of a bunch of foreign people dancing in a humorous manner that's just downright hilarious. Where do they learn to shimmy like that? Certainly not America!

B) Crikey! I know which video clip could emerge as my favorite, if only someone would post the damn thing ...

C) "Chewbacca Goes to Beauty School." (Bonus point for adding: "OK, OK, that's not really a clip. But I bet it will be next week!")

5) Some analysts are viewing the Google-YouTube merger as a signal that a second dot-com bubble is about to burst, citing the huge sums of money changing hands for Internet companies that are imbued with equal parts promise and uncertainty. Do you think investors will get carried away again by the lure of investing in hot Internet companies, only to see their money go up in smoke?

A) Hold on. Lemme Google that and get back to you ...

B) ... OK, I Googled it. Got a naked picture of Wilford Brimley. I'd say your money is safe.

C) The first dot-com bubble burst? Gee, where have I been? Oh, that's right — working at Business 2.0.

6) YouTube's co-founders, Chad Hurley, 29, and Steve Chen, 27, started the company last February in the garage of Hurley's Menlo Park home, using their own money before attracting the attention of noted venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, which ponied up $11.5 million. That's all it took for YouTube to take off, and 18 months after the founding, Hurley and Chen are now multimillionaires. What lessons do you think we should take from their story?

A) The best businesses always start in Menlo Park garages. At least, that's what I keep telling my ska band.

B) I should have started YouTube. Duh.

C) There's not nearly enough going on in the average college student's life anymore. Whatever happened to binge drinking?

7) And finally, do you think the danger of copyright infringement lawsuits will end YouTube as we know it, or do you think Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, will be able to retain the service's freewheeling, post-any-clip spirit?

A) Hey, man, lawsuits haven't stopped Napster.

B) Hang on, hang on. Have you seen this sleeping kitten? Boy, are my middle-aged bank-teller friends gonna love this.

C) Oh, I'm sure YouTube will last. I mean, soldiers in Iraq have to have some way of showing the American people what's going on over there, right?

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