Mark and I are still putting the finishing touches on a video interview we hope to share very soon, and he noticed something interesting when uploading a test version to YouTube:  The time limit has been increased.  He was able to easily upload a 13-minute edit without any problems.  A quick check of Google News revealed that, yes, YouTube has officially increased the time limit from 10 to 15 minutes

The move was made, according to YouTube's blog post, because of their increased ability to block copyrighted content:

"Well, we've spent significant resources on creating and improving our state-of-the-art Content ID  system and many other powerful tools for copyright owners. Now, all of the major U.S. movie studios, music labels and over 1,000 other global partners use Content ID to manage their content on YouTube. Because of the success of these ongoing technological efforts, we are able to increase the upload limit today."

The 10-minute limit was always  more about copyright than it was about YouTube's server load or bandwidth--though I'm sure those things were factors as well.  In the early days, before the time limit, users would upload entire feature films or television episodes.  Now that Content ID has been fine-tuned enough to catch a lot more copyrighted content in an automated way, the restriction can be eased a bit.  Partner accounts have been able to upload longer videos for some time now, and will still have that special privilege moving forward as well.  But this should be a very welcome change for the millions of non-partner account holders.

Users who have previously had a video rejected for being too long will first need to log in and delete that video from their account history before uploading again under the new time limit rules.  And it's also worth mentioning that this limit probably actually works out to 15:59 as opposed to 15 minutes even, since videos uploaded under the old 10-minute restriction were allowed to be as long as 10:59.

YouTube is also holding a special promotion to help kick off the new time limits, asking users to upload videos for their own "15 minutes of fame."  They explain:

"Imagine that this video is all the world will ever know about you: what would you want to communicate? What will be the enduring stamp you've left on us all?"

Users need to tag their 15-minutes-of-fame videos as "yt15minutes," and upload it by next Wednesday (August 4, 2010).  YouTube will pick the best of the bunch and actually give those users their own version of "15 minutes of fame": featuring them on the home page for a day.

The 10-minute time limit has long been one of the most frequent complaints from users, so this news is sure to make a lot of people happy.  Of course, if their video is 30 minutes long, they'll still need to either split it up into two pieces or wait for the next increase on time limits.