Today’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 Webware.com, “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.”
The 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.”
David 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.