YouTube launched its version of the film-industry's People's Choice Awards on Monday, letting the popular video-sharing website's community decide the top clips made by users in 2006.
YouTube Video Awards will be given for original content in the categories of Most Creative; Most Inspirational; Best Series; Best Comedy; Musician of the Year; Best Commentary, and Most Adorable Video Ever.
"Our community was at the forefront of the most creative and popular user-generated content in 2006," said YouTube director of programming Mia Quagliarello. "We want to honor and celebrate the individuals who helped foster the community through their creativity." Videos were nominated in-house based on how popular they were.
Among the nominees in the first of what YouTube hopes will be an annual awards event were Lonely Girl 15 and Chad Vader for best series; Geriatric1927 for commentary, and LisaNova for comedy.
"It was just a breakout year for user-created original content," YouTube spokesman Aaron Ferstman told AFP while discussing the inspiration for the awards.
"I think the community is really going to latch onto this." Voting will take place from Monday through Friday at the website
and the winners will be announced online on March 25, according to YouTube.
Winners will receive trophies and have their videos feature prominently on YouTube, Ferstman said. "We are hoping to see video acceptance speeches from people who win," Ferstman said. If the awards are a hit, Google-owned YouTube said it might expand the event to include a real-world ceremony.
YouTube is spotlighting original video content as it defends itself against accusations that it has condoned piracy by not better filtering user clips containing copyrighted film, television and music works. Earlier this month US entertainment giant Viacom filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Google and its unit YouTube, accusing the video-sharing website of "massive" copyright infringement. Google said it was confident the courts would take its side against Viacom, whose empire includes many youth-oriented television networks like MTV and VH1 along with the Paramount and DreamWorks movie studios.