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YouTube's Copyright Filter: Too Labor Intensive To Work?

CNBC.com

Google's biggest challenge for its online video site YouTube, is getting professionally-created content on board. That means having a serious anti-piracy plan. So, YouTube has finally unveiled its new filtering tools to find copyrighted material.

Creators of that content can opt to block their material from appearing on YouTube or they can chose to sell ads around the material if they want the clips to stay up. This returns content ownership rights to the media companies--even if it's a kid ripping off a movie clip--they can still opt to profit from it.

This is a savvy approach for YouTube--they give media giants an easy way to opt in, to profit from what's until now been considered piracy, so YouTube isn't put in a position of having to pull down every single questionable clip. This is likely to result in some blanket agreements with media companies, but it's unclear how they'll all respond.

And it's unclear how this new technology will affect Viacom's 7-month old law suit against YouTube. Viacom's general counsel was positive about the fact that Google was launching a new effort in quotes with the press. But a lawyer representing another copyright infringement suit by music publisher Bourne Co and English soccer league, called the new filetering system "wholly inadequate."

Here's the crazy thing--copyright owners must provide copyrighted material to YouTube if they want the system to work. The technology requires copies of video they want to protect, so YouTube can compare those files to material being uploaded. That's huge amounts-- decades--of material companies like Viacom, or CNBC's parent, NBC Universal --would have to provide.

Think about the enormous amount of time and money it's going to take the media companies to pony up all that info. Who will play ball? Well, YouTube says it has had positive responses to its filtering system with nine content providers, including Disney and Time Warner .

Presumably if they volunteered for the test and the test went well, they'll be willing to hand over their libraries for the official system. But gee, to me, it seems like a really labor intensive solution for the studios.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.