YouTube Scales Back Content Protection Claim

YouTube has pulled back from a claim made last week that its new digital policing system will be able to prevent users from posting copyrighted material on the site. The clarification is a setback for YouTube as it struggles with content owners over alleged copyright infringement by YouTube users, who often post clips from movies and TV shows or use pieces of them in their own creations.

Last week, YouTube claimed it would soon use a new policing system for copyrighted clips as part of a broader announcement that it had struck a revenue-sharing deal with Warner Music. The companies agreed last week that Warner would receive a cut of any ad revenue generated by its clips. YouTube said at the time that it was going to deploy a technology that would help copyright owners locate their works within user videos on the site.

However, by its own count YouTube receives about 65,000 new videos a day, of varying length. Given the sheer number of videos posted and the huge archive of original content users can draw on, such a system could only be employed selectively.

In the corrected version of the announcement, YouTube promises only an "automated audio identification technology to help prevent works previously removed from the site at the request of the copyright owner from reappearing on the site"--presumably meaning that offending content will be tagged as it is removed, and added to a "no-post" list.

The revision is important because it seems to imply that copyright owners will still have to locate offending content and flag it to YouTube each time they wish to have it removed. The company still faces potential copyright litigation from Universal Music Group, for example--which recently threatened to sue YouTube for tens of millions of dollars for copyright infringement. The companies currently are in talks.