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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

WSJ Profiles the YouTube Police

Phenomenal piece by Kevin Delaney in today's Wall Street Journal about the people paid to police YouTube for copyright infringement. (They work for a company called BayTSP.) They're trained to look for videos that are on the Billboard music charts, or content with the logo of a Viacom-owned network, among others. Wonder if they're trained at all in the concept of Fair Use?

Viacom apparently pays more than $100,000 a month to BayTSP to hunt down copyrighted clips and send take-down notices to YouTube.

From the piece:

    BayTSP says it has more than five TV and movie-studio clients but for contractual reasons can't disclose names other than Viacom. The closely held company says it bills clients as much as $500,000 a month to track down illegal copies of software, music and video clips. Every month it sends out more than a million take-down notices.

    Other companies have started using automated technology to identify video clips so they don't have to employ a room full of people manually scanning them as Bay TSP does. YouTube, which says it complies with copyright laws by removing clips when their owners request it, is testing technology to keep infringing videos off its site in the first place. BayTSP thinks human beings will always be needed if only to inspect automated results.

    "There will always be something that falls into the gray area," says BayTSP CEO Mark Ishikawa, 42, who is also an active race-car driver. The company and Viacom have faced criticism for mistakenly requesting the takedown of noninfringing clips such as parodies and home videos, though BayTSP says its error rate on Web videos is only around 0.1%.

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