MTV, MySpace join forces to make money from pirated videos

Partnership adds technology that can insert ads into pirated MTV videos appearing on MySpace

While online video has proved to be one of the most popular Web 2.0 applications, the sites that show them are constantly battling to fend off copyright infringement notices from broadcast and media companies that own much of the video content posted by users.

MySpace and Viacom International-owned MTV Networks Monday moved to resolve some key online video issues by tapping a new technology that inserts advertising into any videos uploaded by users to MySpace - whether authorized or not.

The deal pairs the two companies with Auditude, a start-up firm that has developed technology that can identify any uploaded professional video, and allow the content owners to insert ads in the video, the companies said.

The Auditude tool can be used to add information to a video clip, along with e-commerce links providing opportunities to buy expanded clips or merchandise related to the content.

"Auditude is opening the floodgates for users to program video on MySpace and ensure copyright holders get paid," Jeff Berman, president of marketing and sales at MySpace, said in a statement. "In one fell swoop, Auditude and its partners are empowering consumers and building a better business model."

The stakes have been high in the battle between media companies like Viacom and sites like YouTube that provide a home for user-uploaded online videos. In March 2007, Viacom filed a US$1 billion lawsuit against YouTube parent company Google contending that videos shown on the site infringed on its patents. Earlier this month, Senator John McCain's presidential campaign protested the removal of its campaign videos from YouTube. The McCain campaign contended that the videos did not infringe on copyrights.

Rick Turoczy, a blogger at Read Write Web, noted that the partnership could prompt content owners to stop efforts to halt the posting of clips from their television shows online. "[The partnership] might have those content owners changing their tune - and actually encouraging people to upload all the content they want," he added.

"With Auditude, MTV Networks will be able to identify practically any of their content on MySpace - so long as Auditude has a record of it - without relying on user-generated keywords or tags. Once identified, the MySpace-hosted MTV content becomes an advertising platform for MTV," Turoczy said.

While Auditude's technology isn't new, its application of it is, he added.

"In the past, content owners have used identification methods as a means of identifying unauthorized content for the sake of calling out the attack dogs and sending take-down notices," Turoczy noted. "The Auditude solution takes exactly the opposite tack: identifying content as a means to extend MTV Networks' reach with the MySpace audience. It's an incredibly innovative way to embrace the behavior of today's Web users while giving something back to the content owners."

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