Steve Chen, the CTO of YouTube, outlined for me some of the steps the video sharing service is taking to try to provide better copy protection for copyright owners. It comes down to education, better tools for copyright owners, and more sophisticated better back-end tools.
The company recently rolled out tools to simplify the process of identifying copyrighted videos. This process is also automated now and can be done online, Chen says.
YouTube has also implemented a back-end technique that fingerprints each video that's taken down. Videos that have the same fingerprint are rejected automatically and can't be loaded onto the system.
They are also doing more user education. "What we have noticed at YouTube is that many users who have uploaded infringing content are unaware that it's illegal to do so. By augmenting the pages in the upload process with educational text regarding the type of content that can be uploaded to YouTube, we have seen a sharp, overall reduction with users uploading copyrighted materials," Chen says.
These moves come in addition to the new 10-minute limit on clips, which is designed to keep people from uploading entire versions of The Office or Simpsons.
They're reactive steps, which means that any video can be loaded on the service, but will be taken down if a content owner thinks it's copyrighted works. Will that be enough? The MPAA has described YouTube as a "good corporate citizen," but also warned that that service needs to do a better job of policing their network and figure out a way to limit the copyrighted material that ends up on their site.
The big question to me is whether their traffic will suffer as they try to achieve a balance? Chen described these tools to me as a part of a profile I did of him and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley in the magazine. In that story, I write that "If they cater too much to their users, they risk getting sued for copyright violations and losing the support of content companies. If they're seen as favoring content companies, however, they could lose their millions of fans."