Google Pledges Antipiracy Tools for YouTube

Google, hoping to fend off ongoing criticism and potential legal battles, has decided to tackle copyright issues head on and will soon offer antipiracy technologies to halt unauthorized video-sharing, the company announced this week.

YouTube, which Google acquired late last year in a US$1.6 billion stock deal, will soon provide tools to help media companies identify and remove pirated videos uploaded by users, the search giant said.

Entertainment Industry Uproar

Google is reacting to a recent flurry of entertainment industry complaints over YouTube. At issue are video and music clips whose copyrights are owned by other companies.

Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record company, late last year accused YouTube of being a serial copyright infringer, and CEO Doug Morris blasted the outfit during a Merrill Lynch investors’ conference speech.

“The poster child for [user-generated media] sites are MySpace and YouTube,” Morris said. “We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars.”

The social networking site MySpace, part of the News Corp. family, has also found itself in the crosshairs of media companies and consequently has begun taking steps to fight copyright infringement.

Business Model

Google’s move is another signal that the company is ready to play ball with the big media players, as it begins squaring away the business model for the site, noted James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research.

“It’s a necessary step in order to secure content and begin partnering with media companies,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “At this point, Google needs to have some positive relations with media companies.”

After the deals are in place, Google will have a better sense of what type of business model is going to work best, McQuivey said.

“Once everyone knows they are going to get a piece of the pie, it will be easier to move forward,” he explained. “Now the question is, how long of an ad are people going to sit through to watch a sixty-second video clip?”

A Big Hit

YouTube has grown dramatically over the last couple of years by allowing users to post and share videos with a worldwide audience. It is currently the third-most-viewed site on the Internet, after MySpace and Yahoo.

However, unfortunately for Google, of the more than 100 million videos watched daily on YouTube — approximately 60 percent of all videos watched online — an estimated 90 percent are subject to copyright laws.

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