YouTube video-fingerprinting due in September

Google 'hopes'


YouTube will unveil FBI-quality video-fingerprinting technology in September. Well, that's what Google hopes. Or, rather, Google wants a judge to think that's what it hopes.

On Friday, with Google facing a three-pronged copyright trial at a federal court in New York City, a company lawyer told the presiding judge that its YouTube video-sharing site would unveil a long-delayed video recognition system this fall, "hopefully in September." According to the lawyer, Philip Beck, the system will be as sophisticated as fingerprinting technology used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Associated Press reports. That would be the fingerprinting technology the FBI uses for fingerprints - not low-quality web videos.

Google, which purchased YouTube late last year, has long said a high-end video recognition system was in the works, but this is the closest it's come to saying when the thing will actually arrive. Of course, "the fall" is hardly an exact date.

Battling lawsuits from TV and movie giant Viacom, the English Premier football league, and music publisher Bourne Co. - which have been combined into a single U.S. District Court trial - Google is under pressure to find a better way of cracking down on YouTubers who upload copyrighted videos and music. Viacom seeks one billion dollars in damages.

As Google told El Reg in an earlier conversation, the company already has two systems in place for policing infringing content - but neither are ideal. One system allows copyright holders to notify Google when they spot their videos on the company's sites. When notified, the company removes the offending videos, in compliance with the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A second system uses "hash" technology to automatically block repeated uploads of infringing material.

The trouble with the first system is that neither Google nor the copyright holders can possibly keep up with the vast number of copyrighted videos uploaded each day. And users can easily fool a hash system with small changes to a video.

Presumably, the new video-fingerprinting system will go several steps further. Speaking to U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton in New York, Google's Philip Beck said the system would require help from copyright holders. Once a holder provides a particular piece of content, the system will generate a fingerprint capable of identifying it. Then, if anyone tries to upload the content to YouTube, the site will shutdown "within a minute or so" on the user's machine.

When contacted, Google did not immediately comment on the lawyer's claims. ®

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