MySpace seals with Viacom to allow video clip sharing

Internet users who upload video pirated from the television may no longer find the clips being taken down or find themselves in trouble. Instead they may become an important part in helping broadcasters make money from the web.

MySpace, the social networking site owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, says it will start using new technology that will identified pirated material and insert an advert along the bottom of the video.

The sale of that advert will generate revenue that is then shared between MySpace and the TV company that created the clip.

"This is a game-changer," said Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing at MySpace. "We're going from a world of no to a world of yes while protecting the rights of the copyright holder."

MySpace is using a digital fingerprinting technology created by Auditude, a company led by a former MTV executive, and will trial it first in partnership with MTV’s parent company, Viacom. Auditude is able to index and scan hours of TV and online footage in a split second, and will be searching for clips from popular Viacom shows such as Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and MTV’s Punk’d.

Clips from Viacom shows, many of which are popular among young viewers, have been among those most often pirated and uploaded by the mainly young users of social networking and video sharing sites – much to the fury of Viacom.

The company is currently pursuing a $1bn lawsuit against Google’s YouTube over what it says are millions of incidences of copyright infringement by users who uploaded clips of its shows to the video sharing website. It has held out against revenue sharing deals that other broadcasters have signed with YouTube, saying the site does not do enough to identify and take down copyrighted material. YouTube says it has implemented video identification technology similar to Auditude’s.

Mika Salmi, president of global digital media at MTV Networks, lavished praise on what he said is News Corp’s more accommodating attitude.

"This deal with MySpace is quite different," he said. "MySpace has always respected copyright and is more progressive about copyright in our mind. The way we're pushing this out with Auditude and MySpace is different than with YouTube or our past associations there."

News Corp is also a major broadcaster and producer in its own right, owning the Fox television network that makes The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Idol.

The ads served through Auditude are called "attribution overlay," a semitransparent strip that covers the lower third of the video player. Although the exact formatting of the overlay will vary as the companies experiment, it will identify the channel that provides the program as well as links to either see a full-length episode or purchase a download. In addition, the overlay can convey a separate brand message from an advertiser that could trigger a second video within the player.