Distributing video on the Internet can give you access to a potentially global audience – fast and at relatively low cost. It is true that the initial investment in computers to process and encode your video, plus a reasonably fast Internet connection, can be high – and will be impossible for many groups and individuals to afford themselves. However, this may be overcome in some cases by sharing existing community resources, or by installing free open source software on computers that are already used for other purposes.
Once this investment is made or these resources have been found, by using new distribution technologies and making use of free services already available on the web, the cost of distributing to a very large audience can be no more than the cost of sharing your video with only one other user. This means that this form of distribution is much more scalable than using tape or disc where the cost of distribution increases for every physical item that must be replicated and delivered to the end user.
It is no longer necessary to worry about the costs of increased traffic from your web hosting company when you can choose to use one of the many free services that are now proliferating on the Internet. There are various freely accessible online video distribution projects that are committed to principles of open content, participatory culture and the sharing of knowledge without commercial constraints – having similar aims and objectives to the free software movement.
It is important that you distribute your video in formats that your audience will be able to play back easily, and that you use your networks online and offline to let people know that it is there. There is an ocean of content on the web, and your video may otherwise get lost amongst it.
Once your video is in digital format on the web it is easy for others to make copies of it and re-distribute it in their own networks. Content has the potential to reproduce itself “virally” on the Internet and take itself much further than you could anticipate if you happen to interest people enough that they will forward it on to their friends and associates.
It is therefore theoretically possible for video-makers to access mass audiences in a way that was only possible previously through traditional broadcast media channels – but this depends on how linked your material is both online and offline to social networks or to matters of popular interest.
There is also the potential for others to make use of parts of your film in their own videos by re-editing or remixing the content that you have produced. By attaching a Copyleft notice such as a Creative Commons license that permits others to re-use parts of your production you are contributing to a cultural resource pool that may be used by others and which you in turn have access to.