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Google launches YouTube video-blocking contraption

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Google has unveiled a long-awaited "video fingerprinting" system for YouTube.

Dubbed YouTube Video Identification, the system does what Google has been promising to do since June: It gives content owners the power to block copyrighted clips as they're uploaded to the popular video-sharing service.

But Google prefers not to focus on the blocking bit. "Video Identification is the next step in a long list of content policies and tools that we have provided copyright owners so that they can more easily identify their content and manage how it is made available on YouTube," read a blog post from David King, YouTube product manager.

If you supply the system with a copyrighted video, it creates a fingerprint capable of identifying the clip when it's uploaded by the masses. Then you can choose to block uploads. But that's not all. You can also allow uploads. And you can ask YouTube to post ads alongside your video and slip you a share of the profits.

"Video Identification goes above and beyond our legal responsibilities," King continued. "It will help copyright holders identify their works on YouTube, and choose what they want done with their videos: whether to block, promote, or even — if a copyright holder chooses to license their content to appear on the site — monetize their videos."

You can read more about the system here. Naturally, it's still in beta.

How difficult will it be for content owners to identify all those copyrighted videos? How accurate will the fingerprints be? Will the fingerprints identity portions of copyrighted clips? We'll see. Google did not respond to our request for an interview.

One thing's for sure: This contraption is late. In July, as Google battled lawsuits from Viacom and so many others over YouTube copyright infringement, a company attorney said it was hoping to have a fingerprinting system ready in September. It's now the middle of October. If you're keeping score at home. ®

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