NEW YORK (Reuters) - News Corp.’s online social network MySpace said on Monday it is offering free software tools to let media companies block the uploading of unauthorized video clips, expanding on an earlier program to block unauthorized music.
MySpace, one of the Internet’s most popular services, has licensed audio fingerprinting technology developed by Los Gatos, California-based Audible Magic, which helps identify the digital audio signature in a video file. Videos whose audio tracks match those in its database will be blocked, the company said.
MySpace said it maintains a database of fingerprints uploaded by content owners. The blocking of unauthorized clips is on a voluntary basis to prevent the exclusion of materials that companies want to be uploaded, such as those by a company’s marketing department.
“Video filtering is about protecting artists and the work they create,” Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace, said in a statement.
The move comes a week after Viacom Inc. ordered the removal of more than 100,000 clips from top online video service YouTube and criticized the Google Inc.-owned service for dragging its heels to offer reliable ways to block unauthorized clips of top shows, including comedian Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show.”
For media companies, protecting copyrights while letting their programming proliferate across the Internet as a free marketing tool has been a difficult balancing act that has balkanized the media industry. Privately, some of Google’s partners, which include most of the music labels, say they are holding out hope the company will be able to solve the issue.
Nowhere is that issue more apparent than News Corp., which owns the 20th Century Fox movie and television studios and the Fox television network. The company subpoenaed YouTube in January to learn the identities of users who had uploaded episodes of hit show “24” ahead of its TV broadcast and episodes of “The Simpsons.”
MySpace said it was already helping companies block the uploading of unauthorized audio files such as songs and this was an expansion into video. It also said it has been blocking both audio and video files owned by Vivendi’s Universal Music Group through this system.
MySpace’s move leapfrogs YouTube’s efforts to roll out the ability to identify and block videos uploaded by users without copyright permission. YouTube does not screen for copyright-protected videos during the uploading process. In a conference call, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company would roll out the system in stages soon, but gave no timeline.
But some of the companies that have signed deals with YouTube have grown impatient.
Last week, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker, whose company has a sponsorship deal with YouTube, slammed the service. Viacom signed a similar sponsorship deal last year.
“YouTube needs to prove that it will implement its filtering technology across its online platform. It’s proven it can do it when it wants to,” Zucker said, noting that the site has been able to reliably block pornography. “The question is whether they have the will.”
YouTube had said similar technology would be made available at the end of last year.
News Corp. CEO and Chairman Rupert Murdoch also criticized YouTube and told attendees of a media conference in New York that the service, which makes it easy to upload and share videos, has a copyright problem.