Google had a period, and it still may, where it would try to build something internally to compete with a cool new project and then if it’s product couldn’t take the lead, it would acquire the competitor. That pretty much seems to be the story between Google Video (launched January 2005) and YouTube (acquired October 2006), respectively. Google Video never really had an appealing interface to me and YouTube has clearly been the successor since then. Google stopped allowing uploads of new videos in 2009 and by the end of this month will remove all videos.
All Google Videos are now showing a banner above them that they will be removed on April 29th, 2011 with a link to a Google Video help page that explains how to download any videos you might have uploaded. The ability to download these videos will be removed May 13, 2011.
The Archive Team is determined to help preserve the former video sharing site. Whereas Google might have its hands legally tied (or out of fear of legal repercussions) to be unable to just directly transfer the videos from Google Video to YouTube, the Archive Team is trying to coordinate an effort to download all 2.8 million videos. Archive.org has donated 100 TB of storage to support of the effort.
The Archive Team wiki for the project includes coordinating many people so that effort isn’t wasted on downloading the same videos multiple times. They also have a script that can be run passively in the background of your computer to aid in scraping or indexing videos. The scripts are currently working on Linux, Windows, and Solaris systems but don’t include all videos so a lot of manual searching is needed to help preserve these many videos.
If archiving these videos and preventing them from being lost forever sounds like something that could interest you, check out the Archive Team wiki to see how you might get involved. This site shutting down is similar to Yahoo! closing Geocities and the Archive Team rose to the occasion then as well.