Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Eve music party at YouTube despite copyright concerns

YouTube and Warner Music Group rang in the new year online despite a seemingly broken promise by the superstar video-sharing website to have an anti-piracy system in place by 2007.

Warner music, messages from artists, and feeds of live performances at celebrations were featured at a YouTube New Year's Eve festival that the allies billed as the start of a tradition akin to the ball dropping in Times Square in New York City.

YouTube members joined the virtual celebration by uploading their own short video clips with resolutions or other year-end messages.

YouTube's New Year's celebration page and its offerings were to be available through Monday.

The show of holiday harmony came as YouTube evidently missed a self-imposed deadline to deploy a system to prevent piracy of copyrighted music.

Creating and installing an "advanced content identification and royalty reporting system" was at the heart of a precedent-setting agreement between YouTube and Warner in September.

Google bought YouTube a month later in a 1.65 billion dollar stock deal and company leaders proclaimed they would tap into the Internet search powerhouse's resources to grow and address technical challenges.

Warner agreed to let YouTube distribute its library of music videos, artist interviews, and other content and allow people to incorporate the music from its catalogue into works they create and post on the website.

YouTube vowed to have a piracy-prevention system in place by year's end as a caveat of the "first-of-its-kind" alliance to sell Warner music and share the revenues.

The system was not in place Saturday and YouTube's offices were closed until after New Year's Day.

A contract posted for electronic signing on the website advised those interested in uploading their creations to YouTube that it "shall be at your sole risk."

Missing the deadline would be a big stumble for YouTube, but it could recover its footing by getting the system in place within a week or two, said industry analyst Michael McGuire of Gartner Research.

"It is hugely important, especially from the rights holders' perspective, that the best efforts are being made to corral the stuff flowing through YouTube," McGuire told AFP.

"Rights holders are making specific bets on paths of distribution and are expecting serious effort to make uncontrolled distribution difficult for most folks to do."

Google and YouTube are not at a point where they can compensate for potential piracy problems by cashing in on the video-viewing audience, said McGuire.

"The YouTubes of the world have to invest heavily in the technology," McGuire said of stopping unauthorized copying of music and videos. "I don't think this is an issue that goes away overnight."

Currently YouTube and other websites based on user-generated content shield themselves from copyright violation lawsuits by removing protected material when owners complain.

Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse.

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