YouTube deletes 30,000 files on request by Japan

Online video site YouTube has deleted close to 30,000 files after complaints from an organization representing Japanese copyright holders.

The online video site YouTube has deleted close to 30,000 files after complaints from an organization representing Japanese copyright holders, the organization said Friday.

The Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC), which collects royalty payments for musicians, submitted a list to YouTube of 29,549 files that it judged infringed on the rights of 23 Japanese content companies, said Masato Oikawa, a spokesman for the organization in Tokyo.

The files are mostly entertainment and music TV programs and were discovered during a five-day audit of the site that started Oct. 2, Oikawa said.

The 23 companies that backed JASRAC include all of Japan's major TV networks, public broadcaster Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), some regional and cable TV broadcasters, and other organizations including the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) and Yahoo Japan.

It's not the first time YouTube has been in the cross hairs of Japanese broadcasters. Earlier this year NHK asked the site to remove a clip of a children's song and said it would go after other files on the site.

YouTube has a lot of Japanese TV clips compared to those of other nations because of the strong cult following that Japanese pop culture has around the world.

It's also growing in popularity with Japanese users. The site posted massive growth in Japan between December 2005 and March this year, with the number of monthly users grew from 201,000 to 2.1 million, according to an estimate from NetRatings Japan in April.

YouTube agreed to be acquired by Google earlier this month in a US$1.65 billion stock transaction. Analysts have wondered about YouTube's ability to avoid lawsuits over the vast amount of copyright material that exists on the site, and some predicted the company would soon be hit with lawsuits.

Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Entertainment and Warner Music Group each signed deals with the companies earlier this week to display their content, which could help shield the video sites from some lawsuits.

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