Japanese rights holders send protest to YouTube

The Japanese entertainment industry is calling on YouTube Inc. to be more proactive in policing its Web site for copyrighted material.

A broad group of companies and associations covering most of the Japanese entertainment industry is calling on YouTube to be more proactive in policing its Web site for copyrighted material.

In a letter sent Monday to YouTube Chief Executive Officer Chad Hurley and Chief Technology Officer Steve Chen, the group requests YouTube start a system that proactively identifies and removes copyrighted material rather than making rights holders find it and send in complaints.

"Taking into account the current status of your service, we believe that your company should not just wait for rights owners to take the 'Notice and Take down' procedures but should bear the responsibility to prevent, in advance, copyright infringements such as illegal uploads and distributions, or to avoid those infringements," said the letter, a copy of which was distributed to media Tuesday by the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC).

Monday's letter is signed by JASRAC and 22 other organizations including the Motion Picture Producers' Association of Japan, the Japan Video Software Association, the Association of Japanese Animations, all of the major commercial TV broadcasters, the Japan Satellite Broadcasting Association, the Recording Industry Association of Japan and Yahoo Japan.

It comes a month and a half after YouTube deleted 29,549 files based on a complaint filed by JASRAC. The association said the files in question infringed on the rights of 23 Japanese content companies. Neither that complaint or YouTube's action didn't stop users uploading content to the site, and plenty of clips from Japanese TV shows can again be found on YouTube.

"We are seriously concerned about the current situation where the Notice and Takedown scheme, aimed [at preventing] copyright infringements, is not functioning well due to the large amount of illegal uploads," the letter said.

"While we expect you to promptly take adequate and necessary measures to prevent copyright infringement on the YouTube Web site, until you do so, we request you to take provisional measures ... in order to prevent illegal uploads of audio-visual works, which copyrights are neither owned by the persons posting the works on the Web site themselves nor licensed by the right owners."

The preventative measures requested by the group include the posting of a message in Japanese on the YouTube home page warning that posting copyrighted material can be illegal; that users may be liable to civil or criminal prosecution; and a register of names and addresses of users posting content and the termination on-request of user accounts that are used or have been used since June 2006 illegally to upload copyrighted material.

The group also requests a reply to the letter by Dec. 15.

YouTube could not be immediately reached for comment.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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