Framatube: Help us break the hegemony of Youtube

This is a revolution. Ok: the expression was confiscated from us by a famous apple seller, but in this case, it is frankly just. And what if, together, we can liberate ourselves from the hegemony of Youtube by innovating the way we view and share videos? At Framasoft, we believe this is possible… But that will not happen without you.

Youtube is an expensive ogre

Youtube is above all a symbol. A symbol for these platforms (Dailymotion, Vimeo, Facebook videos…) that centralize our video creations to offer our information and mental energy to multinationals who pay these hosting sites.

It must be said that snatching our videos and attention is terribly expensive for these ogres of the web. The video files are heavy, so the ogres must constantly add new hard drives to their server farms. Not to mention that, when all these videos are centralized and thus sent from the same machines, they have to increase the size and bitrate of the pipes that transport this bandwidth, which, again, translates into terms of nuggets, or rather mega-moolah.


Technically and financially, centralizing video is probably the least appropriate method, worthy of the age of Minitels. If, on the other hand, your aim is to become the only TV channel for the Minitel 2.0 (or an Internet ruled by platforms)… If your aim to have the power to influence the contents and habits of the whole world… And if your aim is to collect precious information on our interests, creations and interactions… Well, then it becomes truly cost-effective!

In our lives, Youtube is raised to the rank of Facebook: a necessary evil, a site that we love to hate, a service “that I would love to do without, but…” To such an extent that, if only “Paupers” (billionaire companies) could afford the success of such platforms, many others would try to imitate their functions, even among free software developers. As if we can no longer even imagine doing things differently…

“I don’t want you to pressure or bother [the tyrant], but only stop supporting him, and you will see him, like a great column with its base removed, fall and break under his own weight.”
Étienne de LA BOÉTIE, Discours de la servitude volontaire, 1574

Let’s take back the means of dissemination

We’ve been able to propose a Framatube centralizing free videos on our servers, based on the free softwares Mediadrop, Mediagoblin or Mediaspip, which are very effective when it comes to hosting one’s personal video library. But, in the case of success and a very large number of videos and views, we would have to pay a high price: alas (we have done the calculations) we are 350,000 times poorer than Google-Alphabet, to which Youtube belongs. We don’t want to use their methods, and how convenient: we don’t have the means.

Free software, on the other hand, has the capacity to think outside of this Google way of life. The main interest of Google, its capital, is our information. This is precisely what prevents them from putting different, innovative solutions in place. A real innovation would be to use, for example, techniques of dissemination almost as old as the Internet and which have proven themselves: federation of hosts and peer-to-peer, for example.

With federations, unity is power, and the power is with us. Illustration: CC-By-SA Emma Lidbury

We know federation thanks to email (and we have spoken about this in presenting the free alternative to Twitter, which is Mastodon). The fact that the email of Camille is hosted by her company and the email of Dominique is provided by his university does not prevent them from communicating; quite the contrary!

Peer to peer viewing, to better distribute data flows in the network. Illustration: Emma Lidbury

Peer-to-peer, we know from eMule, Torrents, and more recently Popcorn Time: it’s when the computer of each person who receives a file (for example a video that opens in a player on your screen) simultaneously sends it to other people. This allows us, quite simply, to distribute flows of information and lighten the load on the network.

Let’s liberate Youtube channels with PeerTube

PeerTube is a free software that democratizes video hosting by creating a new network of hosters, whose videos are shared directly between viewers, peer-to-peer. Its developer, Chocobozzz, has been working on it voluntarily for two years, in his free time.

At Framasoft, during the Degooglize the Internet campaign, we have often racked our brains over the best way to create an alternative to Youtube that liberates viewers, creators and hosts, without penalizing comfort for any of them. When we heard about PeerTube, we were enchanted: its design, although still under development, let us glimpse a software that could change everything.

We will have a need for contributions to the design of PeerTube.

For the viewer, going on PeerTube will enable him to watch and interact not only with his own videos but also all his “hoster friends” (principle of federation). A video maker will have the freedom to choose between several hosting places, each having its own centers of interest, general conditions, and rules for moderation and monetization. A hoster (some day soon might we say a PeerTuber?) herself will have no need to share the videos with the whole world in order to draw a large audience, and will no longer have to fear that a massively viewed video will bring down her server.

As of October 2017, we have taken Chocobozzz aboard our paid team in order to finance his time spent working on the PeerTube software, and thus accelerate his development and support him as best as we can. The objective? To release a beta version of PeerTube (publicly usable) in March 2018, as part of our Contributopia campaign.

The first means of contributing to PeerTube

Clearly, PeerTube will not be (immediately) as beautiful, functional and furnished as Youtube in 2017 (which has for 10 years benefited from the resources of Google, one of the riches companies in the world). But the features, present or foreseen, make one’s mouth water… and if you want to know more, you can ask ask all your questions about PeerTube on our forum. These questions will allow us to better understand your expectations from such a project, and to publish a FAQ on this blog.

It’s not the software that’s free, it’s you, it’s us! Illustration: CC-By-SA Emma Lidbury

[Translated from French by George Hendrickson. Originally posted on The Framablog. This translation is free to distribute with attribution under the CC 4 License.]


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