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Piracy and Advertising: An Unlikely Union that Just Might Work

In a surprisingly progressive move, a number of major publishers are using YouTube’s Video ID tool to monetize pirated content. The tool flags questionable material and presents copyright owners with a choice:

Copyright holders can choose what they want done with their videos: whether to block, promote, or even–if a copyright holder chooses to partner with us–create revenue from them, with minimal friction. [Emphasis added.] — (From YouTube’s Video ID about page.)

YouTube’s phrasing seems overly optimistic, but the New York Times says some publishers are choosing the partnership option:

David King, a product manager at YouTube, said in an interview that 90 percent of the copyright claims made using the identification tool remain on the site and are converted to advertising inventory. The other 10 percent are either removed from the site or tracked by the content owner.

The Times article notes that at this point advertising revenue from Web video is miniscule and publishers using the tool are still skeptical. Nonetheless, it’s encouraging to see a piracy approach that doesn’t default to heavy-handed tactics.

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