Google on Monday unfurled a filtering system for YouTube that gives owners of copyrighted videos the choice of promoting or blocking their content on the site.
The new system isn't likely to change the viewing experience of millions of people who use YouTube, which is owned by Google. goog But it is intended to shield Google from copyright-infringement disputes with media giants whose content appears, without their consent, on YouTube.
Viacom viab filed a $1 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit against Google in March after the two companies failed to reach a licensing agreement.
"We are operating in good faith with (the content) industry," says Zahavah Levine, chief counsel of YouTube. "It is the latest in a long line of copyright-management tools we have in place."
Levine declined to say whether YouTube has shown its service to Viacom.
Copyright owners will be required to give Google a copy of their content so that Google can match it.
The automated video-identification system examines all videos from YouTube users as they are uploaded. It then tries to match them with a database of copyrighted material provided by the content owners.
Content owners who provide videos to YouTube would specify whether it's OK for others to use them. They also have the choice of making money from video advertising provided by Google.
Without a copy of the content from its providers, Levine says, "We don't know who owns what."
YouTube, which has had limited talks with content providers about its new service, is testing it with nine partners, including Time Warner twx and Disney. dis
"We really need the content community to work with us," says David King, a product manager at YouTube. "Our message: Help us help you."
The "extremely complex" technology, which was initially developed at Google, has been in the works for a long time, King says.
To underscore his point, King says engineers trying to describe the system created a PowerPoint presentation containing 50 pages of equations.