YouTube Testing Online Rental Service

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Google's ( GOOG) YouTube plans to begin testing a new online video service with five movies from the Sundance Film Festival.

The test from YouTube would mark its first major push towards paid video as opposed to being a free site for video clips. YouTube's plan will put it up against the likes of Apple ( AAPL), Amazon ( AMZN) and Netflix ( NFLX).

Google, beginning Friday and through Jan. 31, will charge $3.99 to rent the first five films. YouTube will get a commission from each rental, but the content supplier will receive the majority of the revenue.

"While YouTube has offered an easy and economical way for filmmakers -- as well as content creators of all kinds -- to instantaneously connect with fans around the world, many of them have told us that the ad-supported business model doesn't always meet their distribution and monetization needs," YouTube said in a blog on its Web site.

YouTube said it plans to invite a small group of partners across other industries, in addition to independent film, to participate in this new video option.

YouTube said "making content available for rent will give our partners unprecedented control over the distribution of their work -- they can decide the price of their videos and the rental duration; they can decide when and where their content is available; and they can keep 100% of their rights."

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