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Hosting your own Video Site


This guide focuses on approaches and tools to host, showcase and 'aggregate' video content. it includes hands on sections for doing it yourself and also outlines possible hybrid approaches using commercial video sharing sites and your own resources in parallel.

Scope of this Guide

The guide will give different paths to groups that want to reduce their reliance on services like YouTube and Vimeo. The intended audience is:

  • citizen journalists, video activists and other producers looking to be more independent in their hosting solutions
  • experienced website developers new to the area of video hosting
  • anyone interested in learning about what is possible regarding video distribution on the Internet

Throughout this guide we will aim to communicate some of the means of making good choices about which technology to use.

Screen capture of an independent video hosting website.

Why be Independent? Advantages and Costs

Why not just use YouTube?

Organisations like WITNESS have worked hard to help YouTube and other commercial video sharing websites help distributing the work of social movements and other independent producers. There exists a dedicated Human Rights Channel giving more more profile to key videos.

The Human Rights channel n YouTube co-ordinated by WITNESS

However, the context in which you watch video is important. While YouTube can help to bring an audience to your video, the business model of YouTube and other similar sites involves collecting and selling information about you and the people viewing your videos.

This information, along with any comments posted or additional data, is predominately collected to sell targeted advertising. However, the use agreement also includes the right to remove your video from the internet and to pass your contact and location to various governments and other authorities.

The future consequences of corporations (in this case Google, who own YouTube) owning and sharing detailed information about the online behaviour of a vast amount of people is not very well understood yet. For this reason alone we may want to investigate alternatives.

The challenges of avoiding YouTube

There are quite a few challenges to overcome, both technical and social, if you want to avoid using a large video services like YouTube. When faced with the prospect of 'self-hosting' we may ask:

  • If my videos don't show up in YouTube searches will I lose out on viewers?
  • If my video is very successful, will thousand of views crash our website?
  • How can I deliver video in different quality levels responsively?

We will deal with how to overcome or address these challenges step by step in many of the following chapters.

About this Guide

The guide has a focus on using online video for positive social change and has been commissioned as part of the Human Rights Connect project of Internews Europe. The writers of this guide are Mick Fuzz, an active community member of the FLOSS Manuals project, and Anna Helme from Engagemedia. The writing is co-ordinated by the v4c.org network.


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