YouTube's new video identification system places burden on copyright holders

youtubeToday’s announcement that YouTube’s video identification technology is now in beta was mostly met with jeers, not cheers.

As Read/Write Web’s Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote, “[It] will not come close to satisfying angry rights holders.”

Bob Tur, the first to file a copyright lawsuit against YouTube, is one of those angry rights holders. He told, “It’s a slap in the face of copyright holders.”

The loudest complaint about YouTube Video Identification is that it puts the burden on rights holders to upload versions of their copyrighted movies, TV shows, and other video content to a database. The content is then broken down into data points and analyzed so that any pirated versions posted will be automatically identified and taken off YouTube within minutes.

“YouTube will create a hash file to make sure that that exact same file is not uploaded again,” Kirkpatrick wrote. “That’s the crux of the issue right there. The big rights holders want YouTube to block every instance of their song or video content being uploaded, whether it’s the identical file or not.”

And as MarketWatch noted, “It cannot prevent the posting of potentially infringing content.”

viacomThe issue of copyright infringement has haunted Google since it acquired YouTube in October 2006. Media giant Viacom sued Google earlier this year for “massive” copyright infringement, seeking more than $1 billion in damages.

YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine declined comment as to whether Google has discussed the new technology with Viacom, which has said that a content filtering system would not end its lawsuit as the company is owed damages for clips that have already been pirated and posted to YouTube.

Viacom General Counsel Mike Fricklas, however, did release a generally positive statement regarding Viacom’s initial reaction to the technology. “We’re delighted that Google appears to be stepping up to its responsibility and ending the practice of profiting from infringement.”

you tube playingDavid King, YouTube project manager, said that Google had been working on a filtering system before it acquired YouTube. At that point, King said, “We ramped it up as a priority. It literally has taken until now to get the technology right.”

“Building a system like this is extremely complex,” King said.

YouTube executives said that Time Warner, Disney, and CBS — three of the nine partners who have been testing the program — are “pleased with the system.”

King said on the Google Blog that “Video Identification goes above and beyond our legal responsibilities.”

It will help copyright holders identify their works on YouTube, and choose what they want done with their videos: whether to block, promote, or even — if a copyright holder chooses to license their content to appear on the site — monetize their videos. In implementing this technology, we are committed to supporting new forms of original creativity, protecting fair use, and providing a seamless user experience — all while we help rights owners easily manage their content.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

4 Responses to “YouTube's new video identification system places burden on copyright holders”

  1. Google’s Video Voodoo

    Like everything else it does, Google only advances technology solutions that also advance its own cause … willful blindness, extraordinary profits, inflated egos, exponential market share growth, and/or unilateral control of all of the world’s data and images.

    What is needed here is an industry-wide set of standards and procedures to combat widespread piracy.
    Not just for video, but for digital music, movies, illustrated artwork, recipes, poems, photographs, short stories, news articles, and all other copyrighted works as well. Each industry segment needs to endorse its own workable and reasonable set of standards. Believe it or not, this is far easier than you might think.

    Some of these standards have already been set. My small graphic arts content development company here in Virginia has developed a workable solution for new electronic clipart illustrations, design templates, cartoons, logos/symbols, and animations. Even photography.

    We have tried to share these standards with the Google’s and Microsoft’s of this world, but they make far more profits from continuing to display and distribute infringing works, and sell online advertising beside them, than they would if they were to demand compliance or change their own internal operating procedures, even those that require little work on their part. They have, for the most part, ignored our offers to help curb piracy in our graphic arts content markets.

    If you remember nothing else from this article, please remember this one thing. “Piracy” is the most lucrative business model there is for these giant search and advertising driven companies, like Google,, AOL, and Microsoft. They make the same gross revenues, and other “eyeball” benefits, with absolutely no cost of goods sold. They are not going to stop promoting piracy until we all force them to comply with the laws of this land. The solution requires the perfect balance of preventative industry standards upfront and strong enforcement (civil and criminal) against those who break the rules once they are caught. Willful pirates and willful distributors of stolen works.

    Industry accepted standards force two groups and two groups only to the back on the line … pirates … and those middlemen like Google who profit from the distribution of stolen property! Those who steal your work, or who steal the work of others that ultimately forces what you pay for things to go much higher. And those who cover up such unlawful distribution and create “red herrings”. This country has always called these people “crooks”. Why are the Googlites having such a hard time adapting to a world that respects copyrights? Think about it. How many Google billionaires did you see on the recent Forbes list of the top 400 billionaires in this country?

    Companies simply don’t trust Google the way Google apparently still thinks they do … especially companies who own copyrighted material. Don’t individual company solutions often create monopolistic business practices that in turn lead to greed, corruption, hypocrisy, and other illegal and/or unethical activities? Neither Google nor Microsoft deserve this kind of trust, or market power, from my experience. They have simply not earned it.

    This new Google video “solution”, a legal red herring if I’ve ever seen one, forces companies to send all of their work through Google in advance. And when an infringement occurs, the companies have to expend yet additional resources to monitor the infringements and choose between three options as to how to proceed to protect their property. Google gathers valuable data throughout the entire process. Google continues to sell AdWords and AdSense along the way. Who needs a Westlaw or an Appeals Court under this scary scenario?

    And doesn’t this approach of endorsing “after the fact” licensing further encourage pirates to continue their evil ways? Copyright defense lawyers will have a ball with this one. Just you wait and see. Think about it. If the penalty for stealing $200 worth of merchandise from 7-11 was your picture on a poster and a fine of 100 bucks, how many people would turn to this way of life?

    Google continues to make a fortune at each stage of their recommended “process”. What a joke. Voodoo. Let Google donate their technological solution to an independent third party monitoring service if they are serious.

    I thought we had laws in this country that cover this critical subject matter. Or is this yet another new “law of Goooglism”. Only two things will fix this serious piracy problem. VERY strict enforcement of our existing laws (civil and criminal) and industry standard ways of using technology to discourage or prevent piracy.

    No self-serving efforts are needed on this one, Google. Thanks anyway. The stakes are simply way too high!

    Here’s the net. It is high time we held Google accountable for their role in spreading Internet piracy beyond a controllable issue in all parts of the world … and intentionally I might add. And I base my view on facts I’ve gathered, not just speculation. They have contributed to making copyright infringement an epidemic of enormous economical and social importance. A white collar crime epidemic, the likes of which we have not witnessed in this country in a long, long time. They should not be applauded for this new technology. They should be condemned for their efforts in creating a world that requires technological safeguards to correct economic imbalances and engineering defections in its moral and ethical compass.

    If you can’t see this handwriting on the wall, then you are either very naive or have some sort of vested interest right along with Google (or perhaps even Microsoft) in fabricating these smokescreens.

    Please reconsider your position. We need as many people in this copyright protection boat as we can possible muster.

    George P. Riddick, III
    Imageline, Inc.

  2. I think the alternative is unfair to Youtube…their are millions of copyrighted materials let alone billions…I think this is a fair way of doing it.

  3. Jigsaw Games says:

    This isnt quite right on Youtube. Yet another classic case of an issue dragged somewhere other than where it should be.!

  4. This will only kill Youtube in the long run.!

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