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MySpace will use software to monitor videos posted to the site in a bid to block unauthorised use of copyrighted content. The social networking giant will use technology to analyse videos' audio tracks to identify infringing posts.

The move is intended to placate the big copyright-holding music and entertainment industries, which are taking legal action against social networking and video sharing sites over the copyright infringing activity of their users.

MySpace, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, will use technology from Audible Magic to screen content which users try to upload. If the audio track matches that held by the software and is identified as belonging to someone else, the video will be flagged by the system.

YouTube is the world's biggest video sharing site, but industry observers estimate that MySpace, with its huge community of virtual friends, is the second biggest source of user-submitted videos.

Much of that material is self-made and causes no copyright problems, but a huge amount is professionally produced and owned by a major entertainment company.

Those companies will now be able to upload 'fingerprints' of the digital audio of a given video. If a user submits a video for upload with the same audio, that video will be blocked.

“For MySpace, video filtering is about protecting artists and the work they create," said Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and chief executive of MySpace. "MySpace is dedicated to ensuring that content owners, whether large or small, can both promote and protect their content in our community."

Content owners are increasingly calling for the automation of the process of identifying and removing infringing material. US entertainment giant Viacom last week ordered Google-owned YouTube to take down 100,000 clips from television programmes which it owns. It said that the company was taking too long to devise a system of identifying and removing its clips.

The issue is complex in the case of MySpace because its parent company is the owner of some of the US's biggest content creators. News Corporation runs Fox News, Fox Television and movie studio 20th Century Fox. It makes popular series such as 24 and The Simpsons, and has already been involved in copyright battles as a content owner.

That puts News Corporation in the position of relying on user-submitted content in one of its businesses but relying on exploiting copyrighted material in many others.

YouTube has said that it will begin operating a content identification system and will introduce it in stages. It has already cut usage deals with many of the major music labels for use of their content.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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