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Media companies unveil copyright guidelines for online content

They urge use of filtering technologies

By Linda Rosencrance
October 18, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Some of the world's biggest Internet and media companies have joined together to offer a set of guidelines aimed at protecting copyrights online.

The idea is to enable the growth and development of user-generated content online without violating the copyrights of the content owners, according to a statement released by CBS Corp., Dailymotion, Fox Entertainment Group, Microsoft Corp., MySpace, NBC Universal, Veoh Networks Inc., Viacom Inc. and The Walt Disney Co.

"The principles acknowledge a collective respect for protecting copyrights and recognize that filtering technologies must be effective and are only a part of what is necessary to achieve this goal," according to the statement.

The User Generated Content Principles advocate using technology to eliminate content uploaded by users that infringes on a copyright as well as blocking copyright-infringing material that was uploaded before it was made publicly available.

"These principles offer a road map for unlocking the enormous potential of online video and user-generated content," said Bob Iger, president and CEO of Disney, in the statement. "Cooperation among us, aided by emerging technologies, can clear the way for further growth in the availability of online video in ways that will be good for consumers, good for copyright owners and good for uploading services."

On Monday, Google Inc. said it has a video-blocking tool in beta testing that will allow content owners to intercept copyrighted clips as they're uploaded to YouTube, its video-sharing site.

"We appreciate ideas from the various media companies on effective content identification technologies," said YouTube director of engineering Jeremy Doig in an e-mail. "We're glad that they recognize the need to cooperate on these issues, and we'll keep working with them to refine our industry-leading tools."

In March, Viacom sued YouTube and its parent company, Google, for more than $1 billion, saying the companies are infringing on Viacom's copyrights because almost 160,000 unauthorized video clips are available for viewing on YouTube.

Public Knowledge, a group promoting consumer rights online, called the YouTube filtering technology a "sad development."

"It's a shame that Google was pressured by the entertainment industry into devoting resources to a limited system that could restrict the free flow of information while increasing the control content companies have over otherwise lawful uses of material," Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn said by e-mail.

The YouTube Video Identification Database is designed to match images posted on YouTube with material submitted by copyright holders. The default option will block a video that a copyright holder claims is unauthorized, but this default will limit consumers' fair use rights to post video for purposes such as commentary and


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