Is Warner juicing DMCA with automated infringement detectors?

Summary:Last week, Jason Perlow wrote about his not-so-amusing adventures with Warner Brothers. After helping his wife put together a little 20-year-reunion slide show with an easy listening soundtrack (featuring James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend" and Madonna's "Like a Virgin"), which he intentionally degraded to avoid just this problem, Perlow received a nice little congrats letter from his friends at Vimeo, where the video was uploaded for the benefit of 250 fellow reunion attendees.

Last week, Jason Perlow wrote about his not-so-amusing adventures with Warner Brothers. After helping his wife put together a little 20-year-reunion slide show with an easy listening soundtrack (featuring James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend" and Madonna's "Like a Virgin"), which he intentionally degraded to avoid just this problem, Perlow received a nice little congrats letter from his friends at Vimeo, where the video was uploaded for the benefit of 250 fellow reunion attendees.

This is to notify you that, as a result of a third-party notification by Warner Music Group claiming that the material is infringing, we have removed or disabled access to the material that appeared at http://www.vimeo.com/3591152.

Oh, but surely it's fair use. No problem, just "provide VIMEO’s Copyright Agent with a written counter-notification containing at least the following information ..." Take note, though: Doing so tells WMG who to sue for copyright infringement and getting it wrong subjects you to liability:

Upon receipt of a properly completed counter-notification, VIMEO will forward a copy to the party who submitted the original claim of copyright infringement and/or such party’s legal counsel. Please note that when we send the counter-notification, it will include your personal information. By submitting a counter-notification, you consent to such disclosure.

. . . Under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 512(f), any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing or was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.

In other words, you have to have a very strong case, be a rich corporation, or be out of your mind to file that opposition. Jason says:

I will never buy a single thing from these assholes ever again. So all WB is doing is alienating customers in the worst economic environment possible.

So how did Warners find this outrageous infringement (if it's not in fact fair use)? Jason figures:

Warner apparently figured out that we were violating their copyrights because we explicitly listed the songs on the video’s description page. In retrospect, this was probably dumb for us to have done, because I am sure this was discovered by their legal department using some sort of automated search engine or spider/web crawler. I’m not sure which of the songs are owned by Warner but I assume they cross-checked this against some kind of database of titles or artists.

Oh, it's worse than that, reader Brad Belbas said, pointing us to ACID (Automatic Copyright Infringement Detection) from Autonomy's Virage division.

"Acid watches very large amounts of video and it can spot video that is owned by someone else," in a highly automated process, Autonomy president Michael Lynch said.

ACID uses Autonomy's "meaning-based computing" technology, which allows computers to find relationships within many different types of unstructured data, including text, word processing documents, e-mails, audio and multimedia. Acid uses patented image and audio analysis technology to look for known examples of copyrighted material no matter what format it's stored in.

Topics: Autonomy, Piracy

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