YouTube and copyright thugs

Anyone who thought about the topic for more than seven seconds realized that eventually YouTube would be fundamentally altered by the Disneys of the corporate, copyright-or-wrong crowd. There is entirely too much obviously copyrighted material on YouTube for the copyright holders to ignore forever, which is why it is so much fun for Blogislavia, especially since linking to YouTube costs zero bandwidth to the linker. - YouTube Model Is Compromise Over Copyrights (free article) Video-sharing site YouTube Inc., in a move that could defuse the threat of legal action against it, is racing to overhaul the way media and entertainment companies view unlicensed online use of their content.
YouTube is rolling out technology designed to automatically spot copyrighted material that users upload without the permission of media companies, and then to share ad revenue with those companies.

YouTube's new system, announced yesterday and set for release in the next few months, is an ambitious effort to give media companies more control over the video on the site and to address their fears that others will profit from consumers' piracy of their content. The first entertainment company to embrace the system is Warner Music Group. The two companies have agreed that Warner Music will post its catalog of music videos on YouTube and collect an unspecified percentage of the revenue from advertising appearing alongside them. The deal doesn't cover live performances captured on video cameras or other devices, because Warner doesn't own the copyrights to those recordings.

In addition, the new system will give YouTube users a legitimate way to create videos with soundtracks that use music from Warner artists. (Videos of amateurs' lip syncing or juggling to popular songs are among the most viewed on video-sharing sites.) YouTube's system will identify such videos and give Warner a share of the revenue for any ads that appear alongside these videos, if Warner opts for that rather than having the videos removed.
While YouTube's services are focused on video, the most significant challenge could come from the music industry, which remains divided on how to protect its content online. EMI Group PLC has said it, too, is in talks with YouTube. A spokesman for the world's No. 2 music company, the joint venture Sony BMG, declined to comment.

Universal appears poised to put up a fight. Universal CEO Doug Morris last week told investors that YouTube violates copyright laws by allowing users to post music videos and other Universal content. He said YouTube and News Corp.'s MySpace social-networking site “owe us tens of millions of dollars.” (Universal's Interscope Records is a partner in the MySpace Records label.) A Universal spokesman declined to comment.

“We've reached out to [Universal Music] to let them know we're willing to work with them,” said Chad Hurley, chief executive of YouTube.
YouTube currently faces legal challenges. Robert Tur, the owner of Los Angeles News Service, named YouTube in a complaint filed in July in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. He alleges copyright infringement in connection with several videos that were available through YouTube. YouTube has said Mr. Tur's suit is “without merit.” A similar case, which an adult-entertainment company, Io Group Inc., brought against a video-sharing site, Veoh Networks Inc., in June in U.S. District Court for California's Northern District, makes a similar claim. A ruling against Veoh could potentially set a precedent affecting YouTube.

YouTube and other video sites currently follow a so-called safe-harbor process, enshrined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Under that process, they have to comply with “takedown” notices that copyright holders may send when they become aware of content uploaded without their permission. Some entertainment companies have privately expressed frustration with the process, since it requires them to track down infringing works on a multitude of video-sharing sites.

The writing is certainly on the alley-wall.

(update: Mark Cuban has more on the same topic)

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on September 19, 2006 8:38 AM.

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