It’s been a long time coming, and is potentially good news if you’re a content owner, but bad news for anyone who uses YouTube to find all manner of free, but illegal, videos.
YouTube has announced that a beta version of its Video Identification software is now in place on the site. Custom built with Google (who owns the video site), the system allows copyright holders to automatically identify when their content appears on YouTube, by providing enough “digital fingerprinting” information from videos in order to check against those posted by users.
They then have the option to remove the content, promote it, or work out some kind of revenue sharing deal with Google.
YouTube product manager David King and partner development manager Glenn Brown issued a joint statement on the company’s web site, stating that, “We expect to hit unforeseen bumps and bottlenecks as we refine, improve, and scale the system to meet everyone’s needs,” but that, “Video Identification is brand-new, cutting-edge stuff. Early tests with content companies have shown very promising results.”
However, they made it clear that, even with accurate tools, they would still need the cooperation of content owners to establish what content was legitimate, and which not.
Whether companies such as Viacom and the rest will be satisfied with that remains to be seen. I expect they’ll kick up a fuss, or blame the technology when they screw up the identification process, but there you go.