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February 21, 2007

YouTube Gains Screening Software, Loses Distribution Deals

The buzz lately is over the latest anti-piracy tools that can be used by sites to clean out unauthorized music and video.  Gracenote has their digital fingerprinting software that can identify music tracks reliably and replace missing tags for consumers.  The software and associated database can also help sites identify copyrighted files and prevent them from uploading.

Now Audible Magic has a system that can fingerprint video clips even when they have degraded through multiple copies or processing.  Google is under pressure from various content providers to eliminate commercial clips from YouTube that have been uploaded illegally.  They have decided to do that, though only with companies that have worked a licensing deal with Google.  The problem with the current practice is that once removed, the videos tend to show up again.  Policing the site is a never ended battle.

But policing a site is not just a battle against illegal content.  It's also a business tactic, at least for Google when it comes to YouTube.  The company announced that it would implement software that scans for copyrighted material, but would only use it for media companies that entered into a licensing deal with YouTube.  What would be the point of that other than to have YouTube take the initiative to get rid of unlicensed material?  As of now, copyright holders have to make the demand to have material removed, material that often gets posted again and again after removal.

What seemed like a licensing avalanche at one time for YouTube now looks like the exact opposite.  Major media companies are beating up on YouTube by demanding that clips be removed.  Viacom, Universal, CBS, the National Hockey League are all demanding YouTube take down copyrighted videos.  Not that partnering is dead for any of these companies.  CBS announced a deal with Joost, which is a new video distribution site created by the people who gave us Skype (now owned by eBay).

Maybe it was another announcement that Google made, that they would share ad revenue with uploaders.  Where's the cut for the content producers?  That may be the reason along with the possibility of creating a situation where YouTube is the Apple/iTunes of video.  Either way, it's all about the money and much less about the creativity that generates it.

February 21, 2007 | Permalink

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