YouTube clarifies anti-piracy position

February 21, 2007

YouTube’s in the hotseat this week over its dealings with the media industry and its anti-piracy strategy.

YouTube sent us a response to a story that we published on Friday on media companies clashing over its policies. The statement clarifies its position on how it has worked with media companies to root out piracy, and why porn is just plain easier to spot and delete than TV show clips like Jon Stewart.

YouTube’s statement:

YouTube already has substantial copyright protection tools and policies in place.  From the start, we’ve led the industry in developing a content verification tool to help copyright owners locate their content on our site and send us DMCA notices with the click of a mouse.  We also take a unique hash of every video removed for copyright infringement and block re-upload of that exact video file prospectively.  And we impose a 10-minute limit on videos to prevent the upload of full-length commercial programming in all standard accounts (which comprise more than 99% of our accounts).  As a company that respects the rights of copyright holders, we expect to continue to take the lead in providing state of the art DMCA tools and processes for all copyright holders. 

We have also made private commitments with a handful of business partners to implement audio fingerprinting technology.  We are currently working with some of our record label partners to test and fine tune the audio fingerprinting tools that address their unique needs.  Audio fingerprinting technology is very complex and requires deep partner collaboration.  By way of example, were we to fingerprint an MTV music video at the request of Viacom and block all matches to that fingerprint, we will necessarily block videos containing music content licensed to us by our music label partners as well as videos containing fair uses of that music.  While we are focused on working with content owners to iron out these sorts of complexities and develop increasingly effective tools, our existing audio fingerprinting tools were not designed for and are not currently suited or scaled for mass public distribution. 

Pornography is much easier to detect than copyright infringement because anyone can spot it just by looking at it.  Thus, we rely on our community of users to flag pornography if they see it on site, and we remove it promptly once flagged and reviewed by our staff.  Thanks to the vigilance of our users, inappropriate content is usually flagged and removed within minutes of upload.  In contrast, no one (not our users nor our staff) can determine just by looking at a video whether its use infringes copyright except the copyright owner itself.  Only the copyright owner knows whether any particular video was uploaded without authorization.  Copyright owners of all sorts regularly upload their content to YouTube to promote it and generate buzz, and often do so without our knowledge or any sort of official collaboration. 


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