In July, we reported on Google's video fingerprinting system. Well, the video fingerprinting system was finally unveiled on October 15, 2007.
As expected, the system puts the burden on movie studios and other content owners to provide YouTube copies of the content that they wish were kept off YouTube. The system will create a "fingerprint" of the furnished video and store the digital information in an internal database.
The automated YouTube video ID system looks at all video as it is uploaded and tries to match it with a database of visual abstractions of the copyrighted material that has been provided by content owners. If the system finds a match it will either block it, post it, or - depending upon the policy specified by the content owner - put ads on it, with the revenue being shared with the content owner.
If the copyright owner wants pirated copies to be blocked and the system finds a match, the pirated video may be posted, but only for a few minutes and then the system will remove it. The copies of the copyrighted content that owners provide YouTube for anti-piracy purposes will not end up posted on YouTube unless the company posts the content itself.
YouTube has tried to emphasize that its video fingerprinting technology is not a run-of-the-mill product. In fact, YouTube executives demonstrated how the system accurately recognized copyrighted material in the form of a homemade video shot off of a TV and one that someone had inserted text before posting.
However, reactions are mixed.
Bob Tur, the chopper-piloting journalist who was first to file a copyright lawsuit against YouTube, said the image-recognition technology will likely fail to identify much of the pirated material on YouTube because it is modified and of poor quality. In addition, Google should have the burden of making sure that the material being posted is owned by the poster and not push that responsibility onto copyright owners, he complained.
Some people, like Mike Fricklas of Viacom's general counsel, welcomed the move. "We're delighted that Google appears to be stepping up to its responsibility and ending the practice of profiting from infringement."
However, Viacom has always maintained that the advent of a filtering system does not mean that it will drop its lawsuit, because the damages it is claiming is for the clips that have already been pirated on YouTube.
To read more:
- Nabbing video pirates: Who needs Google? (BusinessWeek)
- Update: Google unveils copyright protection tools for YouTube (CNNMoney)
- Google tests 'video-fingerprinting' (Financial Times)
- Google unveils YouTube copyright filter to mixed reviews (Wired Blogs)
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Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.