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October 31, 2006

MySpace, YouTube Get Serious About Copyright

Social networking site MySpace is going to use MusicID technology from Gracenote to identify and then remove copyrighted music from site pages.  The technology works by analyzing a digital fingerprint of music and comparing it to a database of millions of songs.  The form is irrelevant to the analysis.  The source could be wave files, mp3s or other popular formats.  Music can also appear in the background of videos and may still be identified. 

Gracenote says that even different versions of songs by the same artist in the same studio can be distinguished from each other.  A song may be mis-tagged either accidentally or deliberately.  Gracenote has the ability to correctly identify music even under these circumstances.  Some media players that use Gracenote have the ability to correctly identify music and replace faulty tags for computer files.  The technology has been around for about a year now although it is just coming into play on identifying potential copyright violation on a mass scale.

MySpace and other sites have long held the policy of removing copyrighted materials from their sites when brought to their attention.  This process automates the notice and speeds up the removal process.  Some news reports speculate that the deep pockets behind the most popular sites that include MySpace (News Corp.) and YouTube (Google) have a vested interest in playing nice with content providers.  Other reports note that YouTube is taking down clips (some 30,000 or so) from South Park, the Daily Show and the Colbert Report at the request of Viacom.  Some critics view that request as short sighted as the fan fervor fuels a buzz about both shows.  It's Viacom's call, though, as they own it and their rights are not in question.

The Gracenote MusicID technology could conceivably have greater application beyond getting sites to adopt it.  Perhaps the future is for organizations such as the RIAA to set up their own bot search engines to seek out unauthorized music on the web. 

Stories are in CBS News, VNUNet, Forbes, E! Online, and the Chicago Sun-Times.  Gracenote information on MusicID technology is here.

October 31, 2006 | Permalink


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