YouTube to present video awards

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Brace yourself, Oscar. Step aside, MTV. Next week, the online video-sharing Web site YouTube will present awards for best user-generated videos of 2006.

Lital Mizel (L) watches Adi Frimmerman use a video camera at Lital's house in the central Israeli town of Ramle, October 12, 2006. The two 22-years-olds titled a video clip they put together for a boyfriend's birthday as "Dancing stupid" and posted it on the YouTube website. The video has since become an Internet hit. Next week, YouTube will present awards for best user-generated videos of 2006. REUTERS/Yonathan Weitzman

Starting Monday, YouTube members can browse through videos in seven genres at and rank their favorite short-form videos. Polling closes on Friday. Trophies will be handed out on March 26.

“If you think of 2006, it was really a pioneering year for online video and for user-generated content,” said Jamie Byrne, head of YouTube product marketing. Google Inc. acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion last year.

Categories include most creative or inspirational, best series, comedy, music or commentary. A seventh category, “most adorable video ever” -- seeks to recognize the proliferation of “so cute it hurts” sleeping cat or dog videos, Byrne said.

Nominated programs include videos from 80-something English pensioner Geriatric 1927, up-and-coming folk singer Terra Naomi, Star Trek parody Chad Vader, actress-turned-teenager Lonely Girl 15, and comic commentator LisaNova (Lisa Donovan), who recently landed a spot as a cast member on Fox TV show MadTV.

The nominees can create new videos over the next five days to promote themselves on YouTube. They can also plead for votes or make acceptance speeches.

One category missing from the YouTube awards is “Best Professionally Produced Copyrighted Video.”

Last week, Viacom Inc., owner of assets including MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures movie studio, sued YouTube and parent Google for more than $1 billion.

The lawsuit alleges YouTube’s surging popularity last year was due in part to massive copyright infringement by fans of Viacom shows like “The Colbert Report” and “South Park,” who post segments of the TV shows online for other fans to watch.

In a sense, the nature of online voting makes YouTube’s ceremony anachronistic. YouTube already relies on a ratings system to track the viewing habits of its fans and constantly promotes the most popular videos on its site.