A few questions to discover PeerTube…
(click on the questions to discover the answers)
PeerTube is software that you install on a web server. It allows you to create a video hosting website, so create your "homemade YouTube".
The difference to YouTube is that it's not intended to create a huge platform centralizing videos from the whole world on a single server farm (which is horribly expensive).
On the contrary, PeerTube's concept is to create a network of multiple small interconnected video hosting providers.
PeerTube is unique because (as far as we know) it's the only video hosting web application which combines three advantages:
- An open code (transparency) under a free/libre license (ethic, respect and community-driven development);
- A federation of interconnected hosting providers (so more video choices wherever you go to see them);
- Peer-to-peer broadcasting – and therefore viewing – (so no slowing down when a video becomes viral).
Linked together, these three features makes it easy to host videos on the server side, while remaining practical, ethical and fun for the internet users.
Because by design free/libre software respects our fundamental freedoms, and guarantees them by a license, so a legally enforceable contract.
Concretely here, it means that:
- PeerTube is freely provided, no need to pay to install it on your server;
- We can look under the hood of PeerTube (its source code): it's auditable, transparent;
- Its development is community-based, it can be enhanced by everyone's contributions.
The advantage of YouTube (and other platforms) is its video catalog: from knitting tutorials to Minecraft constructions through videos of kittens or holidays… you can find everything!
The more the video catalogue is varied, the more people are interested, the more videos are uploaded… but hosting videos from all over the world is (very, very) expensive!
If the hosting provider Knitting-PeerTube becomes friends with Kittens-Tube and Framatube, it will display the videos of others on its site, thus diluting hosting costs while remaining practical and complete for Internet users.
PeerTube's federation protocol will be fluid (everyone can choose their "friends" hosts), and based on ActivityPub: this will open the possibility to connect with tools like Mastodon or MediaGoblin.
When you host a large file like a video, the biggest thing to fear is success: if a video becomes viral and many people watch it at the same time, the server has a big risk of getting overloaded!
Peer-to-peer broadcasting allows, thanks to the WebRTC protocol, that Internet users who watch the same video at the same time exchange bits of files, which relieves the server.
There is nothing to do: your web browser does it automatically. If you are on a mobile phone or if your network does not allow it (router, firewall, etc.), this function is disabled and switches back to an "old-style" video broadcast 😉.
It's software you install on your server to create a website where videos are hosted and broadcast… Basically: you create your own "homemade YouTube"!
There already exists free/libre software that enables you to do this. But with PeerTube, you can link your instance (your video website) to Zaïd's PeerTube instance (where he hosts videos of the lectures for his people's university), to Catherin's (who hosts her webmedia videos) or even to Solar's PeerTube instance (who manages a vloggers collective).
But PeerTube doesn't centralize: it federates. Thanks to the ActivityPub protocol (also used by the Mastodon federation, a free/libre Twitter alternative), PeerTube can federate several small hosters so they don't have to buy thousands of hard disks to host videos for the whole world.
As a result, on your PeerTube website, the audience will be able to watch not only your videos, but also videos hosted by Zaïd, Catherin or Solar… without having to host their videos on your PeerTube-powered website. Such diversity in a video-catalog makes it very attractive. Such a large choice and diversity of videos is what made centralized platforms such as YouTube succesful.
Federation offers another benefit: everyone becomes independent. Zaïd, Catherin, Solar and yourself can make your own rules, your own Terms of Services (for example, one can imagine a MeowTube where dogs videos are strictly forbidden 🙂).
It allows you to choose a hoster that fits you. YouTube's excesses are a good exemple: its hoster, Google/Alphabet, can impose its "Robocopyright" (the ContentID system) or its tools to index, recommend and spotlight videos; and those tools seem as unfair as they are obscure. Even though, it already forces you to give it extended copyrights on your videos, for free!
With PeerTube, you can choose the hoster of your videos according to his terms of services, his moderation policy, his federation choices… As you don't have a tech giant facing you, you might be able to talk with you hoster if you ever have a problem, a need, or something you want.
The other big advantage of PeerTube is that your hoster doesn't have to fear the sudden success of one of your videos. Indeed, PeerTube broadcasts videos with the protocol WebTorrent. If hundreds of people are watching your video at the same time, their browsers automatically send bits of your video to other viewers.
Before this peer-to-peer broadcast, successful videographers (or videos that make the buzz) were doomed to be hosted by a web giant whose infrastructure can handle millions of simultaneous views… Or to pay for a very expensive independent video host so that it can hold the load.
One of the benefits is that you become a part of the broadcasting of the videos you are watching. If other people are watching a PeerTube video at the same time as you, as long as your tab remains open, your browser shares bits of that video and you participate in a healthier use of the Internet.
Of course, PeerTube's video player adapts to your situation: if your installation does not allow peer-to-peer playback (corporate network, recalcitrant browser, etc.) video playback will be done in the classic way.
But above all, PeerTube treats you like a person, not as a product that it has to track, profile, and lock in video loops to better sell your available brain time. Thus, the source code (the recipe) of the PeerTube software is open, making its operation transparent.
PeerTube is not only open-source: it's free (as in free speech). Its free license guarantees our fundamental freedoms as users. It is this respect for our freedoms that allows Framasoft to invite you to contribute to this software, and many evolutions (innovative comment system, etc.) have already been suggested by some of you.
We can answer with certainty: no!
In March 2018, PeerTube released its publicly usable beta version. Several collectives set up the first instances, thus creating the bases of the federation.
But this is just the beginning, PeerTube is not (yet) perfect, and many features are missing. We intend to continue to improve it to release a version 1 by the end of 2018.
March 2018 thus represents the birth of the PeerTube federations: the more this software will be used and supported, the more people will use it and contribute to it, and the faster it will evolve towards a concrete alternative to platforms such as YouTube.
Nevertheless, the ambition remains to be a free and decentralized alternative: the goal of an alternative is not to replace, but to propose something else, with different values, in parallel to what already exists.
Creation and content
Being free doesn't mean being above the law! Each PeerTube hosting provider can decide on its own general conditions of use, abiding by their local laws.
For example, in France, discriminatory content is prohibited and may be reported to the authorities. PeerTube allows users to report problematic videos, and each administrator must then apply its moderation in accordance with its terms and conditions and the law.
The federation system, for its part, allows hosts to decide with whom they want to connect, depending on the types of content or the moderation policies of others.
PeerTube is not a website: it is software that allows a web hoster (for example, Dominique) to create a video website (let's call it DominiqueTube).
Now imagine that Camille has created an account on DominiqueTube and uploads an illegal video, because this video uses music created by Solal.
Solal goes on Framatube, an instance which follows DominiqueTube. So, Solal can see, from Framatube, the videos published on DominiqueTube.
Solal sees Camille's illegal video, and signals it with the button provided for that purpose. Although the report is made from Framatube, it is sent directly to the person hosting the illegal content, Dominique.
From that moment on, Dominique is responsible, because they are warned that they're hosting an illegal video. It is therefore up to them to act if they don't want to be held accountable before the law.
Then Dominique and Solal can turn against Camille, who uploaded the video.
There are none, not at the moment: PeerTube is a tool that we wanted neutral in terms of remuneration.
For now, the solution proposed to people who upload videos is to use the "support" button under the video. This button displays a frame in which people who upload videos can display text, images, and links freely. For example, it's possible to put a link to Patreon, Tipeee, Paypal, Liberapay (or any other solution) there. Other examples: put a postal address if you'd like to receive physical thank-you cards, put a logo of your enterprise, a link to support a non-profit organisation…
We did not go any further because to favour one technical solution would be to impose, in the code, a political vision of cultural sharing and its financing. All financial solutions are possible and treated equally in PeerTube.
However, many improvements of PeerTube are to be expected… Including those that would allow you to create (and choose) the monetization tools that interest you!
Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that the vast majority of videos published on the Internet (and even on YouTube) are shared for non-market purposes: remuneration is a tool, but not necessarily a main or essential purpose.
You need to find a PeerTube hosting instance you trust.
It's best to contact and talk directly with hosting providers, to understand their business model, vision, etc. Because only you can determine what makes you trust such or such host, and thus entrust your videos to them.
The installation guide is here (only in English, for the moment).
We recommend not to install PeerTube on low-end hardware or behind a weak connection (for example, on a RaspberryPi with an ADSL connection): this could slow down all federations.
Don't bother the developer to help you install your instance: we have a support forum for that.
PeerTube uses ActivityPub because this federation protocol is recommended by the W3C and is already used by the federated social network Mastodon.
IPFS is a great technology, but it still seems very (too!) young for large scale streaming of large files.
After discussing it on our forum, we feel that d.tube is not free or open source, because publishing only compiled code hinders freedom of modification.
PeerTube is free, decentralized, distributed, and does not impose any remuneration model. This is the choice we have made, which is debatable, and others (like d.tube) have made other choices, which have their advantages. So it's up to you to see what suits you.