Coalition issues video copyright guidelines

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NEW YORK -- A broad coalition of major players in online and traditional media signed off on a set of "collaborative principles" Thursday that they hope will guide the growth of online video while also respecting copyrights.

Headlining the agreement are CBS Corp., NBC Universal, News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment and MySpace, the Walt Disney Co. and Microsoft Corp. Web video site Veoh Networks, which counts Michael Eisner and Tom Freston among its investors, and Paris-based video-sharing site Dailymotion also are on board.

Conspicuously absent is Google, the parent company of YouTube, which Viacom sued in March for $1 billion for copyright infringement. NBC Universal later signed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the still-unsettled suit.

Earlier in the week, though, Google announced a new initiative using its technology designed to filter out copyrighted content on YouTube. The search giant asked for the cooperation of all media companies to help keep their programming off the video-sharing site.

With this agreement, though, media companies and tech companies alike have committed to their own strategy in regulating content on the Web.

In a statement jointly released by all the participating companies, they outlined mutually agreed upon principles focusing on using technology to prevent copyright infringement on sites, like Dailymotion, that are a platform for user-generated content.

The companies agreed to collaboratively implement technology that would prevent the uploading of the content, remove it if it does appear on the site and identify and remove links to sites that are "clearly dedicated to and predominantly used for the dissemination of infringing content." The principles are available in full at www.ugcprinciples.com.

"Today's announcement marks a significant step in transforming the Internet from a Wild West to a popular medium that respects the rule of law," NBC Uni CEO and president Jeff Zucker said. "By recognizing the mutual benefits of a technology-based framework to control piracy, technology and content companies have laid the foundation for the lawful growth of video on the Internet."

Added Veoh CEO Steve Mitgang: "Veoh firmly believes that industry cooperation like this is the key to encouraging innovation that benefits viewers, copyright holders and service providers alike. We wholeheartedly support these principles and hope that other major media and technology companies will join in our effort to grow this emerging market and give viewers even more access to the high-quality video content they want."

Others chiming in with similar statements were Disney president and CEO Bob Iger, Fox president and COO Peter Chernin, Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman, MySpace CEO and co-founder Chris DeWolfe, CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Dailymotion executive chairman Mark Zaleski.

The Copyright Alliance, a nonprofit group that encompasses a wide range of major media companies focused on supporting the value of copyrights, also voiced its support for the initiative.

Said Alliance's executive director Patrick Ross, "It is exciting to witness the creative community reaching consensus with the tech community on reasonable rules of the road for online media. These are common-sense principles that recognize the important roles of both industries in respecting and protecting the interests of copyright holders while also acknowledging the value of true user-generated works and respecting fair use."
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