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YouTube targets Sept. for blocking

Guest Brian M

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Guest Brian M

From today's Hollywood Reporter...

July 28, 2007

NEW YORK -- Google Inc.'s YouTube hopes recognition technology will be in place in September to stop the posting of copyrighted videos on the popular Web site, a lawyer Friday told a judge presiding over copyright lawsuits.

The lawyer, Philip S. Beck, told U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton in Manhattan that YouTube was working "very intensely and cooperating" with major content providers on a video recognition technology as sophisticated as fingerprint technology the FBI uses.

He said the company planned to have the technology in place in the fall, "hopefully in September."

Viacom and England's top soccer league and an indie music publisher -- The Football Association Premier League Ltd. and publisher Bourne Co. -- have sued YouTube in lawsuits that were combined for trial purposes before Stanton.

Beck said the video recognition technology will allow those holding copyrights on videos to provide a digital fingerprint so that if anyone tries to share a copyrighted video, the system will shut it down within a minute or so.

Beck said the company was counting on the software to "hopefully eliminate such disputes in the future."

He said the company believes the new technology goes way beyond what the law requires to stop copyright infringement.

He told the judge the company began only two years ago when one of its two California founders sought a way to send videos of his children to relatives on the East Coast. Since 30 videos were exchanged in the first month, more than 10 million videos have been exchanged worldwide, including hundreds of thousands a day, he said.

Lawyers for plaintiffs in the two lawsuits said they welcomed any improvement that would end alleged infringement of their copyrights but believed YouTube should have acted sooner.

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., a lawyer for Viacom International Inc., said it will take the next year to identify the extent of infringement that continues happening on "a very massive scale."

"Perhaps the filtering mechanism will help. If so, we'll be very grateful for that," he said.

Viacom sought $1 billion in damages for what it said was the unauthorized viewing of its programming from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks, such as "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." In their lawsuit, the soccer league and indie music publisher sought unspecified damages and any profits YouTube made as a result of the sharing of copyrighted videos.

YouTube said in response to the lawsuits that it goes beyond what is required under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives Web hosts protection from copyright lawsuits so long as they comply with requests to remove unauthorized material.

YouTube said it cooperates with holders of copyrights and immediately complies with requests to have unauthorized material removed from the site.

Verrilli said the plaintiffs are alleging "plain, old fashioned infringement."

He added: "They acknowledge rampant activity and haven't done anything to stop it."

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