YouTube goes international

Net co. creates sites for nine countries

YouTube is launching nine localized Web channels as part of an international expansion. The video site, owned by Google, announced the launch of the customized channels in Paris on Tuesday.

The U.K., France, Ireland, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Brazil and Japan, all will get their own versions. The local channels will be translated into the languages of the respective territories and feature country-specific video rankings and comments.

“We want to create a YouTube experience that is a local experience,” said Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube along with Chad Hurley. Company, he said, aims to bring to the individual territories “local sites that not only promote their communities but also speak their language.”

More than half of YouTube users already come from outside the U.S. YouTube execs are hoping that the new international channels will open up even more lucrative sources of revenue, tailored to each market.

YouTube has increasingly sought to reposition itself as a platform for global broadcasters, as well as user-generation content. The Web channel, bought by search engine Google in a $1.76 billion deal last year, has already inked content-sharing deals with U.K. pubcaster the BBC, Gaul’s France 24, Antena 3 in Spain and Qatar newscaster Al-Jazeera English.

The increase in dedicated territories may find the service coming under further legal threats for copyright violations. YouTube is facing a number of lawsuits over allegations that videos posted on its site have not been cleared with the rights owners.

Viacom has sued the company for $1 billion, while another class-action suit is pending from a group that includes the U.K.’s top soccer league, the Premier League; the Federation Francaise de Tennis, which runs the French Open; and Gallic soccer org the Ligue de Football Professionel.

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