RealTime IT News

MySpace Adds Video Fingerprinting

Social networking site MySpace today unveiled a pilot program designed to block videos that violate copyrights.

Universal Music Group (UMG), which last year accused the site of "rampant copyright infringement," is among the first customers.

NBC/Universal and Fox are the first media companies participating in the free video filtering. News Corp. is the parent company of both Fox and MySpace.

Although it will block the uploading of audio and video that includes copyrighted UMG content, MySpace will still offer promotional music videos from the media giant.

Digital fingerprinting technology from Audible Magic compares the audio track against a database, Van Ikezoye, CEO and founder of Audible Magic, told internetnews.com. It then blocks any video matching a fingerprint in MySpace's database.

The video filtering follows last year's digital-fingerprint scan of audio uploads to the popular online hangout.

"MySpace is dedicated to ensuring that content owners, whether large or small, can both promote and protect their content in our community," Chris DeWolf, CEO and co-founder of MySpace, said in a statement.

With both video and audio filtering in place, MySpace offers "industry-leading protection," for content providers, a contention UMG might dispute.

UMG sued MySpace in November, claiming the site "fostered, induced and welcomed" copyright infringement, internetnews.com reported at the time.

The lawsuit asked $150,000 per song or video uploaded to MySpace. UMG, the world's largest music label with 25 percent of sales, estimated MySpace held tens of millions of infringing items.

Today's actions, however, were not prompted by the lawsuit, a MySpace spokesperson told internetnews.com. "We've had no settlement discussions with UMG," responded the spokesperson.

Someone with knowledge of the legal tangle expects the dispute to go to court. UMG was not immediately available for comment.

MySpace said it will also rollout a new content takedown tool for content providers. Content takedown is seen as a way to avoid lawsuits under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). However, copyright owners have complained the tools are cumbersome.

The revised content takedown function a "DMCA substitute," because it gives content owners a backdoor through which they can flag music or video for removal.

The social network announces its new tool, as the prevalence of illegally uploaded content increases.

Today Google and Live Digital, responding to a suit filed by 20th Century Fox, disclosed the identities of users who illegally uploaded entire episodes of "24" and "The Simpsons."

Earlier this month, Viacom demanded video-sharing site YouTube pull 100,000 video clips after the media giant said it tired of waiting for YouTube and Google to implement video filters.

"Having a filter makes them [content providers] happy," JupiterKagan analyst Emily Reilly told internetnews.com. However, MySpace and other social sites need to balance protecting content companies against not alienating users, she said.

Although MySpace is Audible Magic's largest video customer, Ikezoye said a "handful" of unnamed clients are using the video fingerprinting.

UMG sued Grouper, Audible's first company to sign onto video fingerprinting, claiming copyright infringement. Another video site sued by the music giant, Bolt, today announced it was acquired for $30 million by online video company Go Fish.