Public radio’s Marketplace had an interesting bit yesterday about something that’s happening on YouTube. Given all the unauthorized cover songs and bits of television shows and movies, YouTube has developed the ability to identify videos with this kind of content in an automated way. At least some of the big music and media companies have supplied reference files, and YouTube compares new videos with these references. When the program finds a match, YouTube has the option of serving an ad on the bottom of the video — it’s a way to pay for the licensing that wasn’t obtained for the song. (YouTube gets some of the ad revenue, but most of it goes to copyright holders.) I thought that was pretty ingenious, though I’m sure a lot of people don’t really like it. It’s still better than summarily yanking the video or closing the account.
I checked a few videos to see if I could catch the identification routine in action, but didn’t see it. I guess the cover videos I saw were either too obscure or different enough to not get caught (or maybe not new enough to have been checked).