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Policy group cries foul

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Google continues to fight allegations that it's promoting video piracy. In March, entertainment giant Viacom slapped Google with a $1bn lawsuit over copyrighted videos posted to YouTube, the site Google purchased last fall, and now, the National Legal and Policy Center is asking whether the search engine cum world power is facilitating copyright infringement on its home-grown video-sharing site, Google Video.

Today, the NLPC posted a list of 50 copyrighted movies and TV shows that it says have been hosted by Google Video, including everything from Columbia's recent Spiderman 3 flick, Disney's Meet the Robinsons, and Warner Brothers' Blood Diamond to a French dub of "Miami Vice."

"Our goal is to do our best to expose the pirating of copyrighted material by finding and posting as many apparently pirated works as possible," reads the center's report. "For starters, we are focusing on Google Video because it hosts many full-length movies and concerts and because it has received less attention than YouTube."

According to the center, all fifty titles were available from Google Video as recently as this Saturday. And, yes, Michael Moore's Sicko is on the list. In mid-June, after complaints from The Weinstein Company, the film's producer, Google pulled copies of Sicko from both YouTube and Google Video, but it seems that pirated copies continue to pop up. Like another film on the NLPC list, Evan Almighty, Sicko continues to play in American theaters. It first appeared on Google Video and YouTube well before its official theatrical release.

Google spokesperson Gabriel Stricker told The Register that the company is committed to removing copyrighted material whenever the copyright holder asks that it be taken down. "We not only meet but actually exceed what is required of us by DMCA," Stricker said, referring to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the U.S. law that addresses copyright issues with digital media. "We have created a number of tools that makes it very easy for users, specifically content owners, to notify us and request removal of potentially infringing content."

But Stricker confirmed that a copyright holder must notify Google each time infringing content is posted to its sites. "It's important for us to be notified every time," he said. "There are some instances where the entire piece of content has been posted. There are others where there are mash-ups of the content, some sort of derivative use that's permissible under the law. It's very difficult to generalize."

The company has also implemented a "hash" system designed to block repeated uploads of the same infringing material, and Stricker insisted that repeat offenders will have their Google accounts terminated.

Of course, there are ways around a hashing algorithm. According to Stricker, Google is working on additional technologies that can better identify copyrighted video. The company is already using technology from Audible Magic to identify copyrighted songs on its sites, and previously said that it will soon unveil video fingerprinting technology on YouTube.

They better get a move on. It looks like there's another suit on the way from The Buttock.®

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