MySpace attacks vid piracy


MySpace is expected to announce today that it is adopting a new video-filtering technology to keep copyright-infringing clips off the site.

The arrival of the system, which is being implemented as a "pilot program" immediately, comes amid mounting pressure from content companies on sites like YouTube to wipe their sites of illegally obtained film and television footage that users have uploaded.

MySpace may be especially sensitive to the needs of copyright holders given that it also is owned by a content company, News Corp. While MySpace is the largest online video source to adopt the video-filtering tool, it is not the first; Sony Corp.-owned Grouper did the same in November.

News Corp., NBC Universal and Universal Music Group, which filed suit against MySpace last year over illegal uploads, have signed on to participate in the pilot program. MySpace has extended usage of the technology to all media companies free of charge.

MySpace's new system, created by Audible Magic, a technology company that specializes in digital-rights protection, essentially blocks any video upload that matches content stored in a database to which media companies can register their content.

It is the latest measure MySpace has taken in recent months to appease media companies, taking content protection a step further than legally required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which puts the onus of identifying illegal content on copyright holders. In November, MySpace said it already was testing "enhanced" tools for removal of copyright-infringing material.

MySpace also already utilizes an audio-targeting technology provided by a different company, Gracenote. The company announced the implementation of that system in November on the same day that Universal Music Group filed a lawsuit against MySpace in U.S. District Court in California, alleging the site was enabling illegal uploads.

The new technology could find favor at UMG, though the lawsuit is still active.

Audible Magic already has licensed technology that enables audio fingerprinting of music files, but video requires more complex targeting. But in November, the company said it had acquired the license to a patent-pending technology known as Motional Media ID that could target pirated video content in seconds.

MySpace's implementation of video fingerprinting comes as media companies have been increasingly vocal about their frustration with current filtering technologies, particularly at YouTube. This month, Viacom declared it was removing its entire content catalog from the site.

The scrutiny content companies are applying to Internet video also came to light late Friday, when a production division at News Corp., 20th Century Fox Television, announced that YouTube had complied with a subpoena it issued last month to divulge the identity of a user who had uploaded episodes of Fox Broadcasting Co. series "24" before it aired in primetime (HR 1/25).

YouTube did not respond to a request for comment.