Google launched the beta of its "highly complicated" YouTube copyright tool dubbed YouTube Video Identification.
In its corporate blog Google notes that "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."
Of course, the devil is in the details (see Techmeme). Technical details were sparse, but Google says it will terminate accounts of "repeat infringers based on DMCA notices." The big question: What exactly is a repeat infringer. If you upload a Jon Stewart clip from Comedy Central twice? How about five times? 10? What's the threshold here?
Google will also take a "hash" of every video removed to prevent re-uploading. And content owners get a notification and takedown tool. Copyright tips will be clear on the site.
The search giant noted that the tool goes "above and beyond our legal responsibilities." Translation: Let's end this Viacom suit already. Viacom and Google will get to the negotiation table. Viacom can say its suit prodded Google to create the tool. Google can say the lawsuit was moot since it was a good copyright citizen anyway. Both save face. Bottom line: This tool makes it more likely that Viacom and Google will settle.
As for the tool, don't expect perfection right away. On its information page, Google said:
Remember, this is a Beta program, and we expect to hit unforeseen bumps and bottlenecks as we refine, improve, and scale the system to meet everyone's needs. So please be patient.