Japanese companies still wary of YouTube

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TOKYO -- YouTube may have won over a few Japanese broadcasters with its plan to halt illegal uploads to the popular site, but the majority want to see whether the technology the company is introducing will really put a stop to copyright abuses.

Google-owned YouTube, which introduced a Japanese-language site in June, recently announced partnership deals with six Japanese companies, including satellite broadcaster SkyPerfectTV and social networking site Mixi.

Yet companies and organizations with copyright concerns are not convinced that new security technology will be effective.

"YouTube has announced that it will introduce video fingerprint technology, but that is still in the test phase and it is not at all clear whether it will be effective," said Satoshi Watanabe, head of the Transmission Rights Division of the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers.

Kadokawa Herald Pictures is one of those that has agreed to test the new technology, which enables copyright holders to provide a digital fingerprint of video that will identify those that are illegal and prevent them from being uploaded.

The system is scheduled to be operational before the end of the year, Watanabe said, but other broadcasters are waiting to determine whether it works in practice.

"Six companies have decided to go with YouTube but all rights' holders in Japan are still unsatisfied with the current situation," he said. "We have requested that YouTube install infringement prevention measures but we are still seeing Japanese content being uploaded."

Notices were added to the site in February in an effort to deter illegal uploads, but have had little impact, he said.

JASRAC is an umbrella organization for 24 Japanese companies and associations, including the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan and the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

The group held talks last week with representatives of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, including Google vp David Eun and Chris Maxcy, director of YouTube partner development.

The talks were the second time the two sides have met since the Japanese broadcasters demanded action to remove about 30,000 clips last year.

"I think they are trying hard, but members of the group here are expressing frustration because there have been few meaningful changes," Watanabe said.
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