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Google launches video ID tools for content publishers

YouTubeYouTube may or may not have become the phenomenon that it is without illegally uploaded clips of copyrighted content like music videos and clips from movies and TV shows. But the truth of the matter is that an awful lot of the videos on YouTube are copyrighted. And they've been uploaded without the copyright holder's permission.

Today Google announced the launch of their much anticipated content identification system. This is supposed to appease the lawsuit-happy content publishers who want to make sure that teenagers aren't uploading Saturday Night Live clips.

But here's the thing. Google's new system kind of passes the buck onto the content publishers. In order to work, the owner of the copyrighted video will have to upload a copy to YouTube, and then Google's machines go to work analyzing that file and making sure that nobody else has uploaded an exact duplicate. There's a few problems with this:
  1. Content owners want Google to take preemptive action, not reactive
  2. As far as we can tell, there's no way to prevent modified versions of the video from being uploaded, since the data analysis will be different. And some content owners have complained about things like music being played in the background of an amateur video. Google's new tools would be useless in identifying such videos.
In other words:
  1. Users will probably continue to upload copyrighted videos without permission
  2. Copyright holders will complain that the burden shouldn't be on them to check for illegal videos
  3. Google will shrug
  4. The world will move on and either Google will continue fielding lawsuits or content owners will find ways to make their content available online so that users don't feel the need to upload illegal copies.
What do you think? Did Google pass the buck? Or is this the appropriate way to design a content identification system?

Tags: content-identification, copyright, lawsuit, youtube