Sony eyeVio (tries) to compete with YouTube

News: Add Sony to the list of major media corporations that plan on launching video sharing sites to compete with YouTube.  Sony’s will be called “eyeVio” and will be launched on Friday in Japan, according to Reuters.  Last month, News Corp. (owned by Rupert Murdoch) and NBC Universal announced plans to launch their own site as well. 

Sony says it will closely monitor content on its eyeVio site — which some say will be in marked contrast to YouTube’s automated system.  “We believe there’s a need for a clean and safe place where companies can place their advertisements,” Sony spokesperson Takeshi Honma said.

Analysis:   “Clean” place?  Hmm.  I wonder if that’s from a translation.  Still a thinly veiled slight at YouTube and its copyright controversies.  This is all part of the ongoing debate between (i) automated networks on the Internet and (ii) the desire among some copyright holders for human review of each file uploaded before it becomes available.   

Of course, we might envision some middle ground between the two poles, an automated network with some random human prescreening of a portion of uploaded files.   Unfortunately, under the DMCA safe harbor, the Internet service provider would be jeopardizing its claim to the safe harbor, the more it starts actively prescreening content and becoming aware of possible circumstances indicating infringement. 

It’s not clear whether Sony will be prescreening 100% of the files uploaded, or doing some smaller percentage.  Part of the problem, of course, is how many humans do you have to hire to screen 65,000 files a day, the amount YouTube typically gets?  And, once you hire all those people, having all those people determine what may be copyright infringement will inevitably be based on guesswork.  A litigation-averse company will likely be overinclusive and deny a third party’s posting of content if there’s any doubt.

Filtering technology may one day provide some greater relief.  But that’s probably long on the horizon, and it’s probably unlikely to be the silver bullet to screen out all or even most unauthorized uses of copyrighted videos.   I could be wrong about the filtering, but one thing to remember:  unauthorized uses of copyrighed works have always been a part of our copyright system.  We just haven’t been able to see them as easily as we do now on the Internet.   

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