Open Media Network is meant to help broaden the audience for any amateur or professional producer of video or audio clips.
Public TV stations KQED of San Francisco, WGBH of Boston and KWSU of Washington State University are already offering video programs on the network.
The nonprofit behind it also hopes to cultivate a following for cutting-edge clips produced specifically for the Internet, much like the "podcasts" that allow anyone to host a radio program.
The peer-to-peer network, launched this week, is the brainchild of Mike Homer and Marc Andreessen, veterans of Netscape Communications Corp., the developer of the first major commercial Web browser.
A free version of Open Media Network, still in a "beta" test phase, lets users play clips on desktop computers, laptops and iPod music players. By this summer, the software will work on some televisions and cell phones.
The network will remove programs that violate copyright or are "unsuitable" for viewing, though it's not clear whether or how it might censor for pornography, violence or other would-be offenses. The network does offer content producers a built-in digital-rights management system to limit sharing, duplication or viewing.
Though clips on the network are now free, future versions of the software will likely include a payment system for producers to charge for premium content.