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YouTube offers copyright compromise

Japanese content owners still not satisfied

YouTube will start displaying a notice in Japanese on its website warning users against uploading copyright content, its two founders told representatives of a broad group of Japanese copyright holders today.

The Japanese language message was the only concession YouTube offered in the face-to-face meeting in Japan, according to those present. No time frame was given for when the message will appear.

The meeting, which ran for about two hours, was held in response to a complaint made in December last year by a group of 23 Japanese TV broadcasters and associations representing copyright holders. The group had also asked YouTube to register the names and addresses of users making uploads and terminate the accounts of those who illegally upload copyrighted content.

"The meeting went quite well and it was a very friendly manner," said Satoshi Watanabe, manager of the transmission rights department at the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers.

"We are very satisfied with the direct negotiation realised and this should be a first step to carrying on... but their reply itself is not satisfactory today so we'd like to solve the issues," he said.

YouTube chief executive Chad Hurley, chief technology officer Steven Chen and Google vice president, David Eun, attended the meeting but didn't offer any comments afterwards and sped away from JASRAQ in waiting taxis. Later, YouTube issued a brief statement that confirmed its commitment to respect copyright and thanked the organisations for the meeting.

At the meeting, the YouTube founders outlined their plans to develop a system that will be able to automatically scan uploaded video files and identify some that infringe on copyright, but no time frame was given for the launch of the system, representatives of the Japanese group said. They also confirmed plans to begin paying uploaders for popular content providing the uploader owns the copyright.

If such a service was to begin it would require uploaders to register their real names and addresses with YouTube in order to receive payment and that step would likely mean such users are unlikely to infringe on copyrighted material.

The Japanese copyright holders are wary of YouTube's site because of the large number of Japanese clips and users.

The complaint was prompted after YouTube deleted 30,000 files judged to infringe on copyright of Japanese organisations and new files quickly found their way onto the site. YouTube is easily the most popular English-language website in Japan and one of the most popular overall. According to some estimates a third of all its traffic comes from Japan.

The meeting comes days after YouTube found itself in hot water with Viacom International, which owns cable channels such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Viacom demanded over 100,000 clips be removed from YouTube because they contained its copyrighted content. Viacom had been talking to YouTube for several months trying to work out a revenue sharing scheme under which it could share profit from the clips but lost patience with YouTube when the talks made little progress.

Copyright issues have been buzzing around YouTube ever since it became a household name and kick-started the online video sharing market.

Google acquired YouTube in a $1.65bn all-stock deal in November last year. With such a high value attached to the site, some suggested it became a bigger target for content providers unhappy at their material being uploaded to YouTube. Google appears to have shared the concern and put aside 12.5 percent of the acquisition amount in an escrow account for one year to "secure certain indemnification obligations."

Since the acquisition YouTube and Google have been negotiating with copyright holders.


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