Bloggers Rejoice! Customized TV Clips With RedLasso (Updated)

There’s no shortage of video sites that let bloggers embed movies into their posts. But until now, bloggers have typically had to rely on others to capture, edit, and upload this content – there hasn’t been an easy way to create your own clips from recently broadcasted media.

RedLasso is looking to change this. The site, which is currently in private beta, has created a useful (and potentially problematic) system that allows bloggers to sift through recent television broadcasts and extract their own clips.

The site captures content from big-name media sites (CNN, Comedy Central, and the BBC) within an hour after airing. RedLasso then creates an index of each file using closed captioning transcripts and phonetic audio detection (the company says that using phonetics instead of dictionary-based detection works better for proper names and places).

This index is searchable for relevant broadcasts, presented in their entirety. After finding a desired portion, the user can set the endpoints and a clip is generated and ready to be embedded.

The system sounds useful, but it also seems ripe for abuse. Because shows are captured in their entirety, RedLasso could easily be used as virtual (and free) Tivo. To combat this RedLasso is taking a proactive approach: they’re screening every applicant to the beta to ensure that they are actually bloggers. They’re also monitoring video usage, so if they notice that someone’s been watching a bit too much of The Daily Show, they’ll terminate their account. This may work well enough in a closed beta, but the company might not be able to handle an increase in abuse once the service goes public.

And then there’s the copyright issue. RedLasso says they have been in talks with a number of networks, but they have yet to establish any content deals. This is going to be the deal-breaker for the site. The company’s COO, Al McGowan, says that the short clips they generate fall under fair-use, but we’ve seen that argument fail countless times. And what about the full shows that are being hosted on RedLasso servers? If the site has a hope at long-term success, it’s going to need to establish those licensing deals before legal maneuvers shut them down.

RedLasso held a Series A funding round of $6.5 million last November, and they are looking for $10-15 million in a Series B round. Another player in this space is (which features audio detection), though users can’t define their own clips.

Update: And…the cease & desist letters have hit. The company failed to mention their new legal troubles in our interview today, even in response to direct questions on the matter. When questioned again about it a few minutes ago, McGowan said “we didn’t know the letter had leaked.”

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