YouTube Fights Infringement With Advertising

YouTube, as we mentioned this morning, was sued yet again on Wednesday, this time by Italian television company Mediaset over copyright concerns. The lawsuit, filed in Rome, charges the video-sharing site with “illegal distribution and commercial use of audio and video files,” and asks for at least $779 million.

The Google-owned company’s response to requests for comment about the lawsuit seemed to come with a sigh: “There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs.” Meanwhile a YouTube spokesperson said in a phone conversation Wednesday that the site has had increasing success with its own method of fighting copyright infringement, called Video ID.

With Video ID, YouTube asks content owners to submit an index of everything they want to protect, and checks fresh uploads to make sure they don’t match. If they do, YouTube will either pull the clip or place advertising against it.

An important measure of success, said the spokesperson, was that content owners are now choosing in 90 percent of cases of identified infringing content to place ads against the video rather than take it down. (This stat was to some extent previously reported by the L.A. Times, but it wasn’t clearly described.) Further, some partners, like Lionsgate, are actually encouraging fans to upload versions of their content.

YouTube does not disclose a list of names of its partners, and to be sure, content owners who aren’t friendly to the site aren’t going to hand it a disk with all their precious movies and TV shows. But this is an interesting benchmark for this new cooperative way of fighting infringement, which seems to be becoming a standard as independents — like the startup we wrote about yesterday, Anvato — adopt it as well.