It didn't take long for Google's $1.6 billion purchase of YouTube to begin looking like a big albatross around the search giant's neck, with folks like Mark Cuban calling the search giant "a moron" for buying a site whose traffic relied so heavily on the illegal posting of copyrighted materials.
Cuban even fueled rumors that Google had bankrolled $500 million just to cover the lawsuits from copyright holders that were sure to ensue.
While Cuban is famous for running his mouth, plenty of other more moderate folks made similar points. The noise made when Viacom announced last month that it was suing Google for copyright infringement -- to the tune of $1 billion -- sounded a lot like a shoe dropping to the floor.
Viacom's suit came some 6 months after Google promised it was developing technology that would help it eliminate copyrighted content from YouTube. Whether or not the suit had anything to do with it, Google is now apparently ready to introduce a system designed to do just that, called Claim Your Content. Google CEO Eric Schmidt promises it will be available "in a few weeks."
Viacom and others are angry it took this long for Google to get a system in place, especially considering that sites such as MySpace already filter video content with technology licensed from a company called Audible Magic.
Interestingly, the system will apparently put the responsibility on the copyright holders to register their content with Google/YouTube. While users such as this Canadian filmmaker, who details his hilarious love/hate relationship with YouTube in an article on The Tyee, probably won't mind doing so, it's not clear if companies like Viacom will feel the same way.
Oddly enough, the porn industry (which has monetized content like nobody's business on the Internet) may provide some clues as to how the YouTube issue will play out. If sites like YouTube can filter for porn, as they almost certainly can (seen any hardcore vids on YouTube lately?), then why haven't they done a better job at filtering for copyright? That's essentially the question being debated in a low-profile lawsuit involving video-sharing site Veoh and a publisher of gay erotica.
The Veoh decision could have widespread reverbations, considering the growing popularity of content sites where, warm and fuzzy feelings of "community" notwithstanding, users have shown an unfortunate proclivity to rip off not only the big guys like Viacom but each other (see Canadian filmmaker's story above).