June 11, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

Hollywood's YouTube frustration grows

Google and its YouTube subsidiary are trying Hollywood's patience.

The search engine has made significant progress in recent weeks signing content partnership deals for YouTube. But a growing number of studio executives, irritated by no-shows at meetings and canceled test programs, say they are frustrated with Google's inability to scrub the site of copyright-infringing material.

While CEO Eric Schmidt made big news in Las Vegas two months ago when he said the company was very "close to turning on" a system that will streamline the takedown process, when that system actually will be deployed is a mystery.

Adding to the agitation, copyright-filtering technology is already in use at smaller video sites such as Guba, Dailymotion.com and Eyespot. Even Microsoft has installed the features for which Hollywood is clambering on its Soapbox site.

So why not YouTube? Increasingly, media executives are wondering whether the video-sharing giant is doing its best to come up with copyright-protection technology or playing a game of chicken in which billions in sales and perhaps the future of copyright law is at stake.

"Clearly, this is not a resource constraint. This is a function of will," charged Darcy Antonellis, senior vice president of worldwide anti-piracy operations for Warner Bros. "We are making very clear (to YouTube) what has to be done...and it has got to move along at a much faster pace."

Now playing on a Google site near you

Copyright owners are starting to show they mean business. Last week, two French sports groups joined a British soccer league in a class action lawsuit against Google. Already hanging over the search engine's head is Viacom's $1 billion copyright complaint filed in March.

Copyright infringement at YouTube and Google Video has also attracted scrutiny from the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), a private watchdog group that advocates for ethical conduct in the public arena and is known for exposing corruption.

NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm said that in just a couple of weeks he has found more than 125 full-length movies, TV shows and live music performances on Google Video. He strongly doubts Google when it says it can't block infringing content.

Now showing
The National Legal and Policy Center surveyed Google Video in recent weeks and found more than 120 copyrighted movies, TV shows and music videos available for viewing. Below are some of those titles.
Title Months up Viewings*
The Core 1 147,079
Enron 1 3,555
Fahrenheit 911 4 586,788
Miami Vice (French dub) 6 650
The Office, Season 2, The Fire 1 3,069
Pan's Labyrinth 1 2,125
Pirates of Silicon Valley 7 10,419
Spider-Man 7 12,114
The Wire, Season 4, Episode 9 4 26,095
United Flight 93 (French dub) 6 10,047
*Does not represent unique visitors. As of midday Tuesday, the above titles were still up.
Source: NLPC

"If a 58-year-old former prosecutor can find this stuff, Google should be able to," Boehm said. "I'm nobody's idea of a computer expert. These folks are bleeding edge in terms of information. They should be ahead of the curve. This undermines the credibility of their technology...We think there isn't good faith in their representations that they are doing all they can."

YouTube makes deals--lots of them. Major media powers, such as CBS, NBC and Warner Bros. have agreements to post promotional clips on the site.

Last week, YouTube announced a licensing agreement with Hearst-Argyle Television. YouTube agreed to pay for news weather and entertainment videos from the company's member stations.

Recently, YouTube announced a partnership with EMI Records that allows it to host videos and music from EMI artists.

YouTube said in a statement that the company expects to "continue to take the lead" in providing state-of-the-art tools that help content creators find violations of their copyright.

"Most content owners understand that we respect copyrights," Catherine Lacavera, one of Google's attorneys, said in a statement. "We work every day to help them manage their content...These lawsuits simply misunderstand the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which balances the rights of copyright holders against the need to protect Internet communications and content."

Google has said that once YouTube's new system launches, it will speed the process of notifying copyright owners of violations.

In interviews with CNET News.com, executives from five entertainment companies said they began questioning YouTube's commitment to antipiracy systems a year ago. They say YouTube backed out of a meeting last year among the Motion Picture Association of America and most of the frontrunners in online video, including Guba, Joost, Grouper and MySpace, according to two sources.

CONTINUED: Competitors already filtering…
Page 1 | 2

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19 comments

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Lots missing
There is a lot of info missing from this article. There are filters used by YT's competitors but only MS is mentioned as being ineffective. How about the others? How effective are they at stopping uploading of copyrighted material. Perhaps all Google is doing is trying to get it right. With the way the MPAA and RIAA and the industry in general is I would niot doubt that they would cry and moan about Google if they rolled out something that was less than perfect. All they want is a slice of someone else's work and profits. The DMCA was fine when the RIAA and MPAA bought it from congress and were happy to send out takedown notices by the bucket-full. Now that they are in hot water and probable law suits for wrongful takedown notices they want to change how things work so someone else is responsible for their shortcomings. It was fine when the idiots only had to peruse a thousand or so files per day but now that the number is closer to 10K its just too much. Where in the DMCA does it mention quantiity???

Oh boo hoo hoo.
Posted by CNET BITES (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Copywrite this suckers!
Good, I hope google strings them along until their heads explode. Sure I understand protecting films etc but if you ask me, tv shows and boardcasts shouldn't be apart of this. For instance. Back in the day, and as Dane cook would say it was a Wednesday, I used to watch Sifl and Oly on MTV. I loved it!, then it got cancelled. My only other hope was DVD but wouldn't you know. MTV apparently is not playing so nice with the creators and the DVD's will most likely never happen. Well, I found a good amount of SandO on YouTube and I was happy cause I could say this show with friends that haven't seen it. One day I went to show some buddies and OH NOES, viacom sent the done a take down order and SandO was apart of it.

So to the RIAA, MPAA, and anyother AA out there. Until you learn to play in the digital world an realize that all this is just like the parent that always says "no" and customer is the kid saying "thats what you think" you, in the end, will be replaced. I just hope artists of both the movie and music ilk will will one day drop these old money hungry SOB's and go with people that really do apprecidate the art in entertainment or come up with their own distrubution systems.
Posted by Atari05 (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
studio execs are desperate!
totally agree!
I think they do not know what to do anymore.. they must have
realized by now that any DRM protection can be broken...
Posted by da cyka (9 comments )
Link Flag
If it makes them feel any better
I haven't watched a single pirated movie all this year, so they aren't out a dime. Of course, I haven't gone to a movie all this year as well, so maybe that's why they're ticked off.
Posted by agreddon (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Technological solutions aren't really the answer.
The article failed to mention important concepts when discussing copyright: copyright exemptions. We have them for a reason, and they are an equally important consideration not subject to the control of the copyright holder. Technological solutions to protect copyrighted materials cannot determine whether or not a given use meets those exemptions. Copyright law provides some leeway in such uses, and some are intentionally vague (such as fair use). This means that filtering technologies will fail in protecting the legal individual's uses of copyrighted material. The distribution of full-length movies via a Web site are one thing, but other uses are far more likely to be legal.
Posted by cjovalle (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Enuf of Hollywood's Nonsense Already...
...perhaps Google should flip Hollywood's boring script and charge Hollywood for every promo vid or film Google runs on their servers? That'd be new & different. It might even wake Hollywood up to the fact that their's is a long redundant industry *mostly* managed by a overpaid bucket full of fools.

"Right now, cleaning up pirated content on YouTube is left to copyright owners. Big entertainment conglomerates, with literally thousands of shows, movies or music videos must hunt for unauthorized copies themselves." awwww, i'm cryin' 4 hollywood . mebbe they shd ask Steve Jobs how to use a computer - I hear he's got a gig down there now with that wiley Disney outfit. Oh yeah - isn't he on Google's Board as well?? lol

See ya, Hollywood. You were fun in the 20th century. Too bad you didn't make it to the 21st.
Posted by i_made_this (302 comments )
Reply Link Flag
why no porn on youtube?
hmmm... not sure that exposure on Youtube is a revenue negative for the big content owners (personally I?ve seen clips that have led to me watching the show ? but of course I Tivo it and skip commercials). That said, I think YouTube is being disingenuous about filtering as is it seems that porn is pretty effectively screened from their site?
Posted by AxeTracks (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Porn Removal is Community Based
I don't believe youtube has anything in place to prevent adult material from being uploaded.

Instead, the users who watch the video have the ability to flag the video as inappropriate. After a video has been flagged, all future watchers are warned and eventually an admin for youtube will check out the video.

A flag button for copyrighted works probably wouldn't work for two reasons.

1) The vast majority of everything on youtube is a copyright violation (e.g., someone talking into their web cam playing copyrighted music in the background).

2) Porn is easy to detect but who really knows if a song from 1940 is still under copyright or not and if it was ever even copyrighted?

Google should just put what they have up now and improve it gradually. I predict though, youtube will lose its popularity if its filtering works well. Youtube became popular for the same reason Napster did and after Napster cleaned up its act, look how well it is doing. The huge traffic numbers will be diverted to another site that doesn?t filter. If Google has taught us one thing, it is never count on a market as being completely filled (who would have ever though a small search engine like Google could overtake Altavista and Yahoo?).

Also, Google is really stretching when they say the DMCA protects them. I would agree the DMCA protects Youtube if Youtube wasn?t directly making money from the showing of the copyrighted works (ad revenue). For example, if someone paid Youtube $5 a month to upload videos and there were no ads on the site then Youtube would be nothing more than a web host provider and the DMCA would protect it.

The provision in the DMCA Google is referencing was intended to protect web hosts from users who unknowingly uploaded illegal content. But it Google?s case, if it wasn?t for the illegal content it wouldn?t have its large user base and wouldn?t make any advertising revenue. The DMCA would probably also apply to Youtubes business model if the vast majority of videos on the site weren?t illegal. Lets say only 5% of the videos are copyright violations on Youtube, then Google could probably claim ignorance and state they don?t make their money (ad revenue) through the showing of copyrighted works.
Posted by hybris06 (66 comments )
Link Flag
amazing
it is really amazing. So a bunch of you folks are so anti-
hollywood. I don't understand it. you resent their wealth and
hypocracy? Take a look at Silicon Valley, how VCs are taking
subsidy and tax breaks (corporate welfare) to enrich themselves
in the name of alternative energy. How Google is taking the
money invested in the IPO by pension funds, endowments, and
hard working people and giving it to their relatives and cronies
and buying companies owned by the VCs on the board. Look at
the level of donations to regional charities in the bay area and
compare them to the level of donations regional charities in
southen california get. It starts to become pretty clear that the
self righteous and self serving are in Silicon Valley, not LA. Why
this love affair with one bunch of jerks up north over some less
jerky people down south?
Posted by wylbur (110 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Doesn't Matter
The advent of the Internet as given audiences direct access (whether legal or not) to providers' content. A top-down model where the distribution of entertainment material is tightly controlled (a la Broadcast/Cable TV, authentic audio/video discs, etc.), often through oppressive terms (to the consumer) in order to maximize the providers' gain.

Google is simply refusing to give into that, which is something that we, as an audience and/or market should have done ages ago. This is why Google is beloved by the consumer base, and the big entertainment conglomerates are not. Almost like a "Les Miserables" for the 21st century...
Posted by phantomsoul (50 comments )
Link Flag
CounterIntutive
Wait, arent you the one that just put a comment about the blogger expelled from a stadium for blogging a live a event?

Anyhow its not against Hollywod or its average cinema. Most people love Hollywood consumer oriented junk and will eat it happily and pay money to go and see it.
Dont confuse the Hollywod Industry with Hollywod Actors and Directors.
This is about a bunch of thugs trying to position themselves as kings of media in the internet. They are not loosing money over this one, they are simple not making more money. Its about greed and not about art.
Posted by amedina2008 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Impossible
Since video files are shape-shifting -- meaning that the way the file looks to the computer, either by name or filesize or some other property, is virtually arbitrary, regardless of what the picture in it actually shows -- I don't see how any computer program could reliably intercept copyrighted files. Since the copyright depends on what you actually see when you display the video file on the screen, these video files need to be reviewed, by a person, on a case-by-case basis for infringement.

The real battle here is whether the content providers must do it themselves, in order to protect their own copyrights, or whether they can just dump that off on some arbitrary presenter, like YouTube or MySpace. IMHO, how is YouTube or MySpace supposed to know all the terms and conditions of another companies copyrights?

Google is just trying to protect its audience from being bullied with oppressive terms by mass-market content providers in a top-down structure like the way broadcast or cable TV provides for.
Posted by phantomsoul (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They need to come out of digital darkages
Have they checked the quality? The video quality is worse than free to air with someone running a vacuum cleaner.

Be that as it may, if you look at the #s that are supposedly how many times someone watched whatever video on Google or YouTube, it's minute in comparison to how many have gone to the movies to see it. It will probably cost more to prevent the 1% imagined loss (is it really a loss if the persons viewing the video wouldn't have gone to the cinema to see it even if they could have?) than it will be to police it.

As for free to air shows, those shouldn't even be in their complaints list. The reasoning of 'but the advertisers aren't getting their air time!' is ludicrous. How many of you are going to forget what a FORD is? Or Burger King?
Posted by Anysia (104 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Attack of Industry Leader w/big pocket book
It amazes me that since Google acquired YouTube corporations are suddenly looking to make them, Google, look bad. Whay is it they didn't pay any attention to them prior to being under the Google brand of services.

I'm going to boycott businesses that simply are looking to Google for financial relief and failure to secure their own content.

The users of these services are the offenders, let's focus on the problem of user behavior and more importantly this forum has given those companies more exposure for FREE outside traditional marketing channels.

I say - Google, send them a bill for advertising and marketing. Most companies would long to have exposure of a viral marketing of a product or service.
Posted by csandersii (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Execs Lacking in Education
One of the things that strikes me as funny is the fact that execs at any level that aren't in the know about technology and such don't realize that unprotected content isn't filterable.

I can easily post a video containing copyrighted material, however, I can name it whatever else I wanted to and just tell my friends about it until it came down.

Filtering is a complete joke - it hardly ever works and always ends up taking some kind of innocent casualty along with it in higher numbers than intended.

Execs line of thinking is, "if it's there, why can't you filter it?" It's not that easy and I wouldn't blame YouTube or any other video warehouse one bit if they didn't lift a finger to roll it out.

Copyright holders are the ones that need to protect their content, therefore, they should be the ones exerting the energy into searching all the content on these services. These legit services provide ample warning to the user not to upload copyrighted material. That should be the extent of their enforcement until asked to remove content.

This reminds me of the patent holder needing to defend his patent against infringement or else lose the patent.

I guess Hollywood is just that lazy.
Posted by `WarpKat (275 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hollywood Execs are Jealous
They can't stand it that google can make money easily and they can't. They are also jealous of the fact that the guys running google are a lot smarter than they are. So they resort to the tactic of large incompetent corporate management, which is to sue and lobby for special laws.

As one other reader mentioned, Google is probably trying to do it right. Filtering copyrighted video content is not easy, and I doubt that all of those smaller companies and sites have done it as well as they claim to (press releases are a lot less expensive and easier to write than software).

What google should do is develop a simple program that searches the youtube site for a list of titles that are stored in a database. They can give this application free of charge to any content owner who is worried about copyright infringement, and the owners can manage the content themselves, by running the scrubbing app on their server, which will automatically report any copyright infringement to youtube. All the studios would have to do then is keep their database current.
Posted by kgsbca (185 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google being unfair
Google is being unfair. It is hard to believe that they don't have filter ready. When they started video.google.com initially it generated a buzz because users were uploading tv shows and whole movies. But, they gradually started taking them down and they lost its popularity. At the same time youtube rose because people were allowed to upload illegal contents on the site. So, it doesn't make any sense for youtube to put filters on. If they'd turn filters ON than most of the people who flock there to watch pirated movies and shows; would turn to other websites. This would mean less ad revenue to google. So, in this game maintaining the "status quo" is the best strategy for GooTube. And, most of the us defending them are fans of youtube because it lets us watch shows for free. Personally I don't need TIVO because I know I can always go to youtube and watch shows for free at any time that too without ads. This is a zero sum game. Everyone looses in the end.
Posted by niravabhavsar (74 comments )
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