CBS, Microsoft, and MySpace Unveil Copyright Guidelines

Web sites with user-generated content have an obligation to deploy "state-of-the-art" filtering technology to prevent the unauthorized posting of copyright material, a group of large broadcasting and Web companies said Thursday.

The companies, including Microsoft Corp., MySpace, CBS Corp. and video site Dailymotion, call on other social-networking and user-generated content sites to regularly use filtering technology to remove infringing content. Those sites should develop procedures for addressing copyright infringement claims, and they should upgrade the filtering technology regularly, the companies said.

Those principles were part of a set of guidelines the companies released Thursday. The guidelines were designed to help Web sites work with copyright owners on the "collective goal of bringing more content to more consumers through legitimate channels," the companies said.

The guidelines came out two days after YouTube parent Google Inc. announced the availability of a test version of filtering technology to keep copyright works off the popular video-sharing site. Media conglomerate Viacom Inc., which has targeted YouTube with frequent video take-down notices, is one of the companies that signed on to the copyright use principles.

The principles "provide a framework for intellectual property to live in harmony with technical advances," Philippe Dauman, Viacom's president and CEO, said in a statement. "These principles will enable innovative technology and great content to come together to spur greater innovation and, most importantly, much richer entertainment experiences for consumers."

Spokesmen for YouTube didn't respond to a request for comments on the principles.

However, Public Knowledge, a group promoting consumer rights online, called the YouTube filtering technology a "sad development."

"It's a shame that Google was pressured by the entertainment industry into devoting resources to a limited system that could restrict the free flow of information while increasing the control content companies have over otherwise lawful uses of material," Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn said by e-mail.

The YouTube Video Identification Database is designed to match images posted on YouTube with material submitted by copyright holders. The default option will block a video that a copyright holder claims is unauthorized, but this default will limit consumers' fair use rights to post video for purposes such as commentary and criticism, Public Knowledge said.

"While Google should be commended for its effort, we don't think that any automated process will be able to determine whether a consumer's fair use rights are being violated," Sohn said. "Google should make certain the system balances public rights with the rights of content companies."

But the companies supporting the copyright principles said filtering technology is necessary because ease of uploading video content on the Internet has resulted in the proliferation of uploaded content that infringes copyright works.

The principles are an "important step forward in establishing the Internet as a great platform for video content -- a platform that allows services to innovate and preserves incentives for all creators, big and small, by respecting copyright," Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, said in a statement.

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