YouTube Rolls Out Antipiracy Filters

Joanne Cachapero
SAN BRUNO, Calif. — Google, operators of video-hosting site YouTube, revealed on Monday a new filtering system that identifies pirated video as it is uploaded. However, content producers must provide Google with a copy of any video they want blocked off the site.

“We really need the content community to work with us. I would imagine they would be able to prioritize their efforts around their more important assets,” YouTube product manager David King said, indicating that Google expects content producers and movie studios to take a proactive role in helping the company build a comprehensive database of copyrighted material.

According to King, content owners also can specify if they would like videos to be available for posting or used for promoting on other sites. Producers of copyrighted content also can decide if they want advertising to be sold and placed next to video clips.

The system, which was developed by Google, compares video as it is being uploaded, to video abstractions stored in a master database, finds similarities, and then proceeds to either block it from being posted or allow access, depending on the protocol specified by the copyright owner.

The developments come after several individual and media entities have filed suit against YouTube for copyright infringement. In 2006, Los Angeles journalist Robert Tur became the first to file an infringement suit against YouTube after a his copyrighted video of the Reginald Denny beating during the 1992 L.A. riots was posted on the site.

Tur dropped his individual suit this past summer, later joining a class action suit that named Premier League and music publisher Bourne & Co, the National Music Publishers Association, the Rugby Football League, the Finnish Football League Association and author Daniel Quinn as defendants.

In March, multimedia giant Viacom accused YouTube of “massive intentional copyright infringement” and filed a $1 billion infringement suit against the company, alleging that YouTube had “turned a blind eye” to blatant piracy of thousands of video clips belonging to Viacom.

According to YouTube, nine content producers have been tapped to test the new system with only Time-Warner, Disney and CBS willing to be identified publicly as being part of the testing group.

Reportedly, Viacom declined comment when asked if they were also involved in the test.

Viacom did state that the new antipiracy system was unlikely to affect the status of the lawsuit against YouTube, since they are suing for infringements that already had occurred prior to the system being implemented.

However, Viacom general counsel Mike Fricklas said, “We're delighted that Google appears to be stepping up to its responsibility and ending the practice of profiting from infringement.”

Today, in a related story, a group of major media outlets including CBS Corp., News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment Group, NBC Universal, Viacom Inc. and The Walt Disney Company, Microsoft Corp. and the News Corp.-owned MySpace, and video-sharing sites and Veoh Networks, released copyright guidelines that they say will be implemented by the end of the year.

The guidelines, which outline a plan that includes high-tech filtering systems, prompt removal of pirated content and promotion of infringement-free digital content, can be viewed at .

A statement issued by the group may have been aimed at Google — noticeably absent from the group’s members.

“The companies backing these principles believe that they can collectively find a path that fosters creativity while respecting the rights of copyright owners. Distributors of copyright-infringing content stifle both technological innovation and artistic creation in ways that ultimately will hurt the consumer and hinder the digital economy,” the statement read.