YouTube Video ID Success Still TBD

By November 07, 2008

YouTube has provided a way that copyright holders can gain revenue on user-posted content: YouTube Video Identification. They have always provided Take-Down options available to flag legally inappropriate material, but this system provides an alternative to content removal. Video ID (still in beta) will "help copyright holders identify their works on YouTube"  with "technology that can recognize videos based on a variety of factors." Once material is flagged, the holders can choose to block the video, promote it, or now, share in advertising revenue that the content views create. But the effectiveness of Video ID is strongly in question.

The actual mechanics of the technology are vaguely described as "brand-new, cutting-edge stuff" on the YouTube Web site, which other sources say could consist of "fingerprint filtering," the video ID technology from a small company called Auditude. MySpace, in partnership with MTV, is making use of this form of video identification. The process identifies protected content uploaded to the Web, creating databases of television episodes and films. Collaboration is crucial because making the content available enables the filter to compare newer videos.  When Auditude finds infringing material, it will know whether to block or allow it.

According to ZDNet today, NBC assesses YouTube's ability to find infringing videos is 75 to eighty percent. Others found only three percent of protected content was actually taken down. Additionally, YouTube regards its Video ID system as an action beyond its legal requirements under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. YouTube's Take-Down policy relieves them under the Safe Harbor section of culpability for hosting copyright-protected material.

Just as their "Broadcast Yourself" slogan encourages individual self-expression, YouTube's ID technology design will "not impede (...) free and fast communication." But in this economic climate, potential revenue by teaming up with large content creators cannot be ignored. More likely is YouTube's favored support of such a market, even if it is slightly less "free and fast."

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