Thursday, May 22, 2008

YouTomb: YouTube Watchdog

MIT Free Culture, a student organization at MIT creates YouTomb, a site that tracks videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation. From YouTomb:
YouTomb continually monitors the most popular videos on YouTube for copyright-related takedowns. Any information available in the metadata is retained, including who issued the complaint and how long the video was up before takedown. The goal of the project is to identify how YouTube recognizes potential copyright violations as well as to aggregate mistakes made by the algorithm...

When a user-submitted video is suspected to infringe copyright, the rights holder is contacted and given the option to take down the video in question. In addition, rights holders can submit DMCA takedown notifications at any time that cause YouTube to immediately remove alleged infringing content.

MIT Free Culture became especially interested in the issue after YouTube announced that it would begin using filtering technology to scan users' video and audio for near-matches with copyrighted material. While automating the takedown process may make enforcement easier, it also means that content falling under fair-use exceptions and even totally innocuous videos may receive some of the collateral damage.

As YouTube is not very transparent with the details surrounding this process and the software used, YouTomb was conceived to shed light on YouTube's practices, to educate the general public on the relevant copyright issues, and to provide helpful resources to users who have had their videos wrongfully taken down.

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