Change has come… to YouTube, which started rolling out the option of downloading certain videos instead of just streaming them. Google’s (s GOOG) Lawrence Lessig broke the news on his blog over the weekend. By all accounts, it seems as though the downloads are limited to videos from Barack Obama’s Change dot Gov channel, though Lessig writes the feature will be open to videos that aspire to align with principles of open government and will be made more generally available.
There have long been tools available to download videos that are normally streamed (Liz had an excellent round up of them last year), but these have YouTube’s blessing, avoiding any sticky TOS issues.
We’ll have to see if and how this program expands before making any real judgment. It’s unlikely that control-freaky networks and studios would allow their content to be downloaded into the wild like that, and as Peter Kafka points out, it’s unlikely that YouTube would launch an iTunes rival. I’d much prefer the video cloud and mobile access to it be expanded rather than having to download content. But I appreciate the Obama’s administration pushing YouTube into new directions to broaden access to its administration.