It turns out the forces of change can’t be held back by crappy anti-piracy technology after all. Unfulfilled promises by Google (GOOG) to launch video fingerprinting technology on YouTube in order to prevent uploads of copyrighted content have had little effect on the rest of the industry. In the meantime, big media is adopting the tools of the trade to put more and more content online. And along the way, it’s learning that distributing programming encourages fans — while closing up programming encourages piracy.
But down the road, there’s still an opportunity for video fingerprinting technology to make content owners genuinely comfortable with online distribution. While we’ve found early implementations of audio fingerprinting have problems detecting piracy, the MPAA claims that recent tests have been quite promising.
We’ve seen a couple of developments on that front just this week: Santa Clara, Calif.-based Vobile, maker of the “VideoDNA” video fingerprinting and tracking product, said it had scored Gideon Yu — who is known for being chief financial officer of YouTube immediately prior to its sale to Google, and is currently CFO of Facebook — as a board member. Elsewhere, Paris-based Dailymotion said it was employing Ina, a digital image bank, to detect copyrighted videos on the French version of its site.
In a recent test of video fingerprinting technologies, multiple vendors were effective at identifying copyrighted files they had been trained to recognize, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The MPAA and MovieLabs, its R&D arm, spent months testing a dozen software programs designed to identify copyrighted videos from brief samples of their data. Each “fingerprinting” program was fed about 1,000 test files of wide-ranging format and quality, including a number of camcorded movies and other bootlegs downloading from the Net. Of the technologies submitted (11 by firms and one by a Scottish university), the MPAA said, three successfully identified more than 90 percent of the files with no false positives.
Reportedly, though the MPAA and MovieLabs wouldn’t disclose it, Vobile was the overall winner of those tests.
Video sites such as Microsoft’s (MSFT) Soapbox and MySpace already employ fingerprinting technology from provider Audible Magic, and Veoh has said it will implement fingerprinting this month. A Dailymotion spokesperson clarified that the site will continue to use Audible Magic for audio fingerprinting, but is adding in Ina for video fingerprinting. He emphasized that the initial Ina rollout on Dailymotion is only in France, though the company expects it to be implemented across all versions of its sites by 2008.