Back during the summer, YouTube raised the time limit on video uploads to 15 minutes for all users. There was much fanfare and rejoicing in the streets. But soon, users realized that 15 minutes was only five minutes longer than 10, and still pretty restrictive as far as the kinds of videos users can upload. But there's good news for content creators who are longing for a release from their time-limit shackles: YouTube has removed the time limit entirely for some users.
Now, before you start your dance of joy, I should warn you: not everyone's getting this feature. YouTube appears to be basing it on whether or not the user has historically followed their Community Guidelines or rules about copyrighted material. In other words… if you've been naughty, you probably won't see this option in your account. Conversely, if you've been good… consider this an early Christmas present.
Sadly, even if you've been a law-abiding YouTube citizen, there's no guarantee your account is one of the chosen few. Log into your YouTube account and click "Upload" to find out if you are now limit-free. I have a couple YouTube accounts, none of which has ever broken the guidelines or copyright rules, and yet all still have the 15 minute time limit. Dang.
But the greater point I want to make is this: clearly time limits are a temporary annoyance that YouTube is going to do away with entirely at some point. If you don't have the limitless-upload feature yet, you will. We all will. It's an inevitable move that simply makes as much sense for YouTube as it does for their users–the more video uploaded, the more video viewers there will be… and the more ads YouTube can sell.
I used to think the time limits were about bandwidth–keep the videos short so we can host more clips from more users. But at over 2 billion views a day and 35 hours of video uploaded every minute… I think it's probably safe to say that YouTube has some pretty good scalability in place to continue growing with the overall storage size of the content they host.
No, it's actually the copyright issue that seems to be the real reason time limits are hanging around. In their blog post last week, YouTube specifically points out the improvements over recent months to their Content ID system as the reason they're able to let some users go limit-free.
Removing the time limits on video uploads opens up a whole new world of creativity for video producers, potentially giving them a larger "canvass" on which to "paint." I'm pretty excited to see what the best creators are able to do with no restraints on time. In particular, this should be the start of a brand new day of optimism for producers of online web series.