MySpace to Implement Copyrighted Video Filtering

MySpace announced this morning that it is offering free indexing to any content producers who want to block users from uploading their copyrighted videos.  The site has been offering audio filtering and limited video filtering since late last year.  The biggest question on the table is whether and when YouTube will do the same, as it promised to do when it was acquired by Google. Other questions include those around fair use of content.

MySpace has licenced the filtering technology from Audible Magic, an acoustic fingerprinting company that acquired a video filtering technology called Motional Media ID™ in November.  Motional Media was invented by David W. Stebbings, a Senior VP for Technology at the RIAA from 1995 through 2000.

The company’s technology is said to recognize unique signature vectors in seconds. Sources close to another company, MotionDSP (our coverage) tell us that company will soon announce a similar product that track unique patterns of motion in video footage.

The primary technical challenges faced by these companies are scaling and variable video formats and qualities.  Audible Magic’s audio filtering is said to be remarkably effective – post-lawsuit implementation at P2P network iMesh, for example is reportedly free of false positives. “We haven’t seen any false positives, and we’re seeing a recognition rate of over 99 percent,” iMesh’s founder told MSNBC last year. That was the audio program, though, not the video filter.

The political cost of trying to tame the wild west, though, is still unclear. The debate over what constitutes fair use, for example, could become largely moot if one side of the debate can lock its position down with a technology filter.  Critique, satire and sampling could someday survive only with the permission of the party being satirized.  That would not be good.  

Ultimately though it’s unsurprising that big content owners want to control their content and existing business model instead of exploring models that are radical, new and in theory less profitable.  I find it unfortunate that the enforcement of a false scarcity of content is the direction things are moving. The theory is that law and order yields investment and will ultimately mean more available content.

How popular is copyrighted content online? Conventional wisdom is that it’s what drove YouTube’s growth – but a quick look at the viral videos with the most views (via Vidmeter) and the most inbound blog links (via Viral Video Chart) shows that original content is getting plenty of attention. That’s good to see.

Marshall Kirkpatrick is the Director of Content at SplashCast and will be assisting with TechCrunch while Michael Arrington travels.