Piracy faces a 'game-changer'

MySpace, MTV test technology that will allow content owners to benefit

A technology that essentially allows content owners to profit from piracy will get a high-profile test this month from MySpace and MTV Networks.

Instead of triggering the usual takedown notices, copyright-infringing footage of select MTVN programming uploaded by MySpace subscribers would be automatically redistributed with advertisements that would generate revenue for the companies.

MySpace is turning to third-party tech firm Auditude to deliver the technology through a combination of patented assets: a sophisticated ad-serving platform with a video-fingerprinting system that cross-indexes billions of seconds of footage in moments.

"This is a game-changer," said Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing at MySpace. "We're going from a world of no to a world of yes while protecting the rights of the copyright holder."

MTVN is only allowing a handful of current and archived series to be tracked by Auditude, including MTV series "Punk'd" and "True Life" and severalComedy Central series.

The Auditude technology is similar to a system already employed by the only site that has more traffic than MySpace: YouTube. The site's content identification tool gives content owners the choice of removing infringing material or serving an ad.

In success, these systems have profound implications for the online video marketplace. With marketers reluctant to sign on to anything that doesn't deliver TV-sized audiences, the prospect of reclaiming pirated content could exponentially expand the reach of programming carrying their ads.

The MTVN initiative comes even as its parent company, Viacom, remains embroiled in a long-running legal battle with Google over claims that YouTube allowed massive copyright infringement of the conglomerate's content.

Mika Salmi, president of global digital media at MTVN, drew a distinction between the efforts of MySpace and YouTube.

"This deal with MySpace is quite different," he said. "MySpace has always respected copyright and is more progressive about copyright in our mind. The way we're pushing this out with Auditude and MySpace is different than with YouTube or our past associations there." (partialdiff)
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