November 9, 2005 1:23 PM PST

Home movies? Veoh has got 10,000 online

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REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--First there was independent film. Now there is really, really independent film.

Since kicking off its beta program six weeks ago, Veoh Networks has received and made available to its members 10,000 homemade TV shows and movies, said CEO Dmitry Shapiro at the Dow Jones Consumer Venture Conference here this week.

"We're not encumbered by the FCC and have an infinite number of time slots because it is all on-demand," he said. "I believe that in the future, people will quit their jobs and start making a living by showing their videos on Veoh."

Unemployed actors in Los Angeles could also become rarer, he quipped.

Like the much touted Brightcove, founded by Jeremy Allaire, Veoh lets members post videos to its network. Others can download the movie for free or for a small fee, depending on the terms set by the person who posted the video. Posting a video is free; Veoh expects to make money through advertising and commissions on pay-to-download selections.

Yahoo, Google and other giants are also carving out space for amateur video.

The proliferation of inexpensive digital video cameras, cheap editing tools, and broadband has created an environment where nearly anyone can be a filmmaker. The Web has also produced some early, inadvertent hits, such as the Star Wars riff by a 15-year old boy.

Peer-to-peer networks further lower the barriers to entry because the distribution and storage costs get spread along the entire network, rather than being saddled onto one centralized distributor.

Veoh approves each movie placed on the network to ensure that copyright material does not get traded on the network and that adult content is not labeled as something else. (The site lets users post adult content in a protected area, Shapiro said, but so far only 10 adult selections, out of a total of 10,000 works, have been submitted for publication.)

"Because we don't want piracy, we take control of the network," he said. "It is similar to BitTorrent, but this is centrally managed."

But will the public want to see a backyard melodrama about garden insects (the plot of "Intense Butterflies," now playing on the network) or how-to videos for playing guitar? Maybe; maybe not. Veoh's network, however, will expand the content available to consumers, and something might stick. And the early response shows that filmmakers clearly have a strong desire to show their work.

Traditional networks and cable conglomerates, he asserted, underserve many subsegments of the population. Currently, Shapiro noted, there is no skateboarding network, though skateboarding is a billion-dollar-plus industry. The raw footage is out there.

"Have you ever gone to a skateboard park?" Shapiro said. "There are two kinds of people at a skateboard park. People who are skating and people who are filming skating."

 

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