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Vreel the next Stage6? Posted on Saturday, November 22 2008
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Vreel has been getting a lot of buzz as possibly becoming the next Stage6 but the future of the company seems uncertain.

Vreel Innovations

Vreel is coming out with its own browser plug-in video player, based on VLC player, capable of playing h264 videos streaming. It will also offer divx based versions. h264 is one of the latest video encoding standards allowing for extremely good video compression but requiring more processing power to play. It can provide the same quality video as divx at much smaller file sizes. Like stage6 it has support for communities and groups along with the typical features you'll see on most video sharing sites: commenting, voting, favoriting, friend adding, pm...

Vreel Monetization

Here are the current plans offered by Vreel as subscription based services. Vreel also has a heavy set of ads on each page.

Max Upload1GB4GB8.5GB
Max View2GB8GB8GB
Mp34 MP3s20mb/song50mb/song
EmbedNo10GB Bandwidth100GB

It seems like a good idea to prevent leechers by limiting bandwidth on embeds and offering it to only paid subscribers. I'm not all that sure how they will really prevent video downloaders though. I don't think it's possible unless they make viewing user-only.

Financial Concerns

Vreel is already down in funding from a debt to its former CDN limelight networks, due mainly to costs accumulated from leech sites. The stage6 comparison has helped Vreel get more media attention, but has also captured the attention of leechers that used to abuse Stage6 with pirated content.

...we do not owe in excess of $500,000 to limelight - it's lower than that, but still quite a high six figure sum. Around 70-80% of this was ran up by leech websites, after we had requested that they "lay off" until further notice.

As of Q1, 2008, youtube was not profitable. If a site like youtube backed by the God of ad monetization, that manages its own bandwidth, that streams mainly very low quality, was not profitable, it's hard to see how vreel will be able pull through with its 28 year old CEO, Eoghan Hayes, and new CDN, edgecast.

The video sharing service that has probably been the most popular and growing, has been hulu.com, which offers many commercial shows with numerous unavoidable ads placed throughout the videos. Hulu doesn't allow embedding and only allows US visitors to the website.

Lurking in the vreel chat makes it clear many users seem to think of vreel as some kind of free streaming netflix, full of movies and anime. I would say the majority of newcomers don't understand it's just user uploaded content and it complies with video take-down notices.

Inside the Vreel Beta

At the time of writing the vreel players has not been released and all videos are divx based. The closed beta is still in effect but users can join by getting invited by a current gold or premium member. There are still many features to be added and bugs to be fixed. At the time of writing vreel has around 2000 vids, a good 30% or so are anime from a guy uploading on a dedicated server. It doesn't have a library of movies or documentaries, but it seems the anime communities are the most active.

The legacy of Stage6

Many who have good memories of stage6 remember it as a site hosting a lot of very high quality pirated anime and movies that were slow to get removed. Stage6 gave its users 3 days notice and officially shut down February 29, 2008. Sites like vimeo and blip.tv have appeared, offering users the ability to upload very high quality videos, but have aggressively been deleting pirated content without waiting for the content owner to file a DMCA. They have not reached the popularity of the former stage6, even though they are flash based and don't require downloading any plugin like stage6 had done. Stage6 was monetized by promoting and selling the divx software packages. Before shutting down, it had sent users an email saying its database of users had been stolen and everyone should change their passwords.

What are Leech Sites?

Leech websites feed off of pirated content that's uploaded to 3rd party video sharing networks. Videos are then embedded and streamed from the leech website who doesn't have to pay for bandwidth or royalties. It has almost become a standardized practice with many new leech websites appearing daily. Usually it's like a social network where the users of a leech site can recommend or submit links to embeddable media and report links that are dead. Some leech website users, and in some cases people associated with the leech website itself, have been known to re-upload pirated content once it has been deleted.

Leech sites are really common now because they usually don't require much knowledge to make, can bring in thousands of pirates, and take advantage of the massive bandwidth of 3rd party embeddable media without having to pay a cent. They're also protecting themselves by saying they're not hosting any content and are therefore not liable to any legal action. Take down notices must be sent to the video hosting services they are leeching from. Re-uploading pirated content has the worst case scenario of getting a username banned, which is easily bypassed by just making another account in a free email service and registering again.

Are Leech Websites Damaging?

Most video sharing websites comply with the digital millenium copyright act or DMCA, allowing the content owner to contact the video sharing site and take down a video. Sites that do not comply with DMCA are often legally pressured and taken down. Many video sharing websites say clearly in their terms of service not to upload any media that the user did not directly create themselves. By uploading pirated content that will primarily be viewed via embed for a short time by a massive fanbase, leech sites hurt the video sharing services by running up a lot of bandwidth and not returning any ad revenue. The video sharing site also has to devote proper resources and time to having a good legal team and expediently responding to the many DMCA claims they get by content owners.

Fighting off Leechers and Piracy

To stay profitable, video sites have taken aggressive measures in order to prevent the possibility of legal action due to copyright content, and in order to prevent wasted bandwidth from popular leecher sites. Veoh has blocked a majority of the world from accessing its videos, effectively blocking regions that don't give worthwhile ad revenue. Youtube has an 11 minute video limit which prevents users without knowledge of video editing from uploading the typically sized 30 minute popular tv sitcoms. Youtube, with the power of the top of their class crazy google engineers, has created a 'finger print' technology that analyzes the video and audio of uploaded videos and generates some kind of unique descriptor. Content owners can upload their clips to be analyzed so that when they're uploaded without authorization they are immediately taken down through the fingerprint comparison. Despite compliance with DMCA youtube has had some significant legal battles.

Tags: vreel, divxit, stage6, stage6 replacement, hd stage6, new stage6, websites like stage 6, websites like vimeo, websites like blit.tv, hd video hosting services, hd video hosts, dmca, hq video hosting, v reel, vreel.com, vreel.net, vreel invite, vreel invitations, vreal, download videos from vreel

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