Can “fingerprinting” bring a truce to the Web’s video-copyright wars?
The technology is based on the premise that any video content has unique attributes that allow it to be identified even from a short clip — just as a human fingerprint identifies a person.
Proponents of fingerprinting technology say it can help spot TV shows and films that are posted on video-sharing sites such as Google Inc.’s YouTube without their owners’ permission, so the sites can remove them or share advertising revenue. That’s a significant development amid copyright battles between media and technology companies, including Viacom Inc.’s $1 billion suit against Google filed in March. But a series of legal, technical and financial issues remain to be solved even as video sites including Google, News Corp.’s MySpace Video and Microsoft Corp.’s Soapbox, amid pressure from media companies, are testing fingerprinting or putting it in place.
Google’s YouTube every day takes in hundreds of thousands of video clips, from amateur pet videos to clips of commercial movies and TV shows, that are uploaded by consumers. The company has struck deals with some copyright holders, such as the United Kingdom’s British Broadcasting Corp., to run their videos and share some ad revenue.