YouTube Clarifies Copyright Protection Efforts

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YouTube cofounder Steve Chen addressed the "speculation" in the media about the video-sharing site’s technological efforts to combat copyright infringement.

This has been the biggest thorn in YouTube’s side ever since Google (with its bags of cash) bought the company. Viacom almost immediately slapped them with a billion-dollar infringement lawsuit.

In his post at the Google Blog, Chen reiterates a complaint made when copyright complaints first came flying at YouTube like teams of angry hockey dads. "Some legal departments take down a video one day and the marketing department puts it up the next. Which is their right, but our community can’t predict those things, and neither can we."

What they can do, says Chen, is employ Audible Magic for help identifying copyrighted audio content. Video content is trickier though and they are working on technology to solve the problem.

Chen writes:

We are beginning tests on an automated system to identify and match specific videos. The technology extracts key visual aspects of uploaded videos and compares that information against reference material provided by copyright holders.

Achieving the accuracy to drive automated policy decisions is difficult, and requires a highly tuned system. Once accuracy is achieved, the challenge becomes speed and scale to support the millions of people who use YouTube every day.

We are working with some of the major media companies to test what we have developed. We’re excited about the progress so far, and we’re dedicated to making these tests successful, but as always with cutting-edge technologies, there’s no guarantee of success. 

Given the amount of money the company will lose if plaintiffs like Viacom are victorious, it seems Chen and company should go beyond we’ll-give-it-a-try-but-can’t-promise.

But with technical minds at Google coupled with deep pockets for hiring the best there is, that not-completely-sure-if-we-can-do-it attitude has a chance of changing.

YouTube Clarifies Copyright Protection Efforts
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  • Jay Neely


    Copyright filtering is something that services should most definitely decide *won’t* work, now that they’ve started trying it. I’ve written an article that goes in-depth about this, but the very basic gist of it is:
    -it creates a fight between your service and your users.
    -it reduces the number of people creating content on your site.
    -it massively increases your legal liability.

    I go into a lot more detail in the post, I hope you’ll take the time to
    check it out:


    Jay Neely, Social Strategist

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