User uploads of copyrighted content are just a reality these days. Content owners do have some methods for protecting their IP (Viacom is still waiting on its particular choice), but none of them are simple or comfortable fixes. Most solutions, like YouTube’s, include uploading versions of all your work to a service so it can can analyze them and then find copies of them in the wild.
Maybe a bigger problem is that this is a workaround within existing intellectual property paradigms that may never escape its awkwardness. But there does seem to be some hope for another way; Lionsgate, for example, will apparently encourage fan uploads, no matter whether they are licensed, as part of its new partnership with YouTube.
Anvato, a content identification startup that had been in stealth for the last year, contacted NewTeeVee Monday for an interview alongside launching its public website this week. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company fits into the same category as existing providers Audible Magic and Vobile, but it claims its technology works better. Anvato uses picture recognition rather than audio recognition to make its matches (we’d previously road-tested Audible Magic’s audio-based tools and found them lacking). That allows it to better recognize poor quality or altered video copies.
It’s also fast and lightweight, according to Anvato CEO Alper Turgut. He said that Anvato only needs 50 to 100 KB per hour of video in order to “represent the jist of the video,” and that the service can process a million minutes of video in under 5 minutes. It doesn’t need to make a local copy of a video in order to analyze it.
Technology promises are nice and all, but we’ll be waiting to hear if Anvato signs up customers, both content owners and online video sites. Turgut promised deals are signed but didn’t name them. He said he hopes to transform copyright conflicts by giving publishers the ability to advertise on unauthorized uploads — something YouTube is already doing and other companies like Divvio hope to do. Anvato also wants to give publishers the option to replace crappy user recordings with full-quality versions, but doing that well would require deals with video hosts all over the web.
Anvato charges a monthly fee for its service as well as additional fees based on how many unauthorized videos it finds. On behalf of one customer, the company has already found a couple thousands of unauthorized videos with some 6 million plays on YouTube, according to Turgut. Content owners will pay, said Turgut, “because if the YouTube technology was working, we wouldn’t be able to find these.”
Anvato, which has just five employees, raised $550,000 in angel funding from investors that include media executives, and is looking to raise more.