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Google sees video antipiracy tools as priority

By Eric Auchard
February 22, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Google Inc., racing to head off a media industry backlash over its video Web site YouTube, will soon offer antipiracy technologies to help all copyright holders thwart unauthorized video sharing, its chief executive said yesterday.

"We are definitely committed to [offering copyright protection technologies]. It is one of the company's highest priorities," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt in an interview.

"We just reviewed that [issue] about an hour ago," Schmidt told Reuters when asked what Google was doing to make antipiracy technologies widely available to video owners. "It is going to roll out very soon.... It is not far away."

YouTube, which Google acquired late last year, plans to introduce technology to help media companies identify pirated videos uploaded by users.

But to date, such tools are being offered only as part of broader licensing talks, media industry insiders complain.

Schmidt declined to give a specific time frame of weeks or months to cover all potential users, saying that any move would take time to cover all Google's services, including YouTube, and to be made available to all copyright holders wishing to use the antipiracy technology.

"It is not some product you can just build and leave alone," Schmidt said. Protecting copyrighted material is likely to involve an endless cat-and-mouse game to keep pace with hackers bent on breaking such security tools.

MySpace, the popular Internet social network owned by News Corp., said last week that it would offer its own version of copyright protection services for free. MySpace is YouTube's biggest rival.

YouTube's "proposition that they will only protect copyrighted content if there's a business deal in place is unacceptable," a spokesman for Viacom Inc., owner of MTV Networks and Comedy Central, complained recently.

Schmidt said Google plans to make video antipiracy tools generally available to copyright owners. "We have to do that," he said, but cautioned that "it takes a while to roll this stuff out" on a wide basis.

Earlier this month, Viacom demanded that YouTube remove more than 100,000 Viacom video clips from the site after the two sides failed to reach a distribution agreement.

In a prepared statement last week, YouTube said the process of identifying copyrighted material is not automated and requires the cooperation of media company partners.

For instance, a clip of a TV show owned by one company might contain music produced by another, making the process of identifying ownership difficult.

"These matters are very complicated, and we are working with our partners to identify and solve these problems," YouTube said in an e-mailed statement issued last week.

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