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Google shakes empty YouTube piggy bank

Hopes to convince rights holders Content ID is king

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Square eyes squared Google is still searching under the sofa for a remote control that might, one day, help the company make money out of its unprofitable YouTube video sharing site.

In the meantime, the ad broker is hoping to convince more copyright holders to sign up to its service. At the moment YouTube only has about 1,000 media makers on its books, more than two years after it debuted its free "Content ID" scheme.

Last week Google wheeled out a Content ID show‘n’tell for some tech hacks at its London headquarters in Victoria.

The presentation was arguably well timed given that it came just 24 hours after a Google management trio in Europe were handed suspended sentences for breaching Italian privacy laws over a video showing a child with Down's Syndrome being bullied by school boys.

Unsurprisingly, the company is keen to emphasise its “responsible” approach to taking control of the videos uploaded to its YouTube service. The idea of the system is to quickly place ownership of a video clip (whether that be the moving images or audio, or both) back into the hands of the creator.

Matt Wiseman, Google’s Content ID product manager, claims the system is “the latest state-of-the-art in helping all rights' holders manage their content on YouTube”. However, he admits that take-up of the firm's video fingerprinting technology hasn't exactly been overwhelming.

"We work with 1,000 content owners, but as you can imagine, there are a lot more out there," says Wiseman.

He says 20 hours of video flows into the YouTube system every minute. So pinpointing copyright infringement can only be determined in full cooperation with the owner of that content.

The fingerprint technology underpinning YouTube's Content ID offers three general policies that a rights holder can apply to their video or audio media. They can block the content; track the viewing metrics or turn it into a money-spinner.

According to Wiseman "most people" (33 per cent of the 1,000 partners currently signed up) choose the fat dollar option.

But which doggy owns the rights?

A recent example was the annoying “JK wedding entrance dance” video, which used Chris Brown's Forever song.

"The video makers got nothing for their efforts, but Brown’s song became a huge hit as a result of the viral," says Wiseman. Brown's record label agreed to leave the song intact within the video, which has had over 40 million hits since landing on YouTube last July.

“They [video makers] own the copyright for the video portion but not the audio portion, making it a very interesting case,” he says. "Most users see the trade-off… All the revenues were shared back with the music label and artist rather than the video creator.”

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