Viacom, Other Media Giants Push For Web Copyright Rules


The co-operating companies, including Viacom, Walt Disney, Microsoft, News Corp's Fox unit, and CBS said in a joint statement they will use technology to eliminate copyright-infringing content uploaded by Web users and block any pirated material before it is publicly accessible.

However, the group lacked one crucial player on the new media landscape -- Internet search and ad service behemoth Google, which along with its YouTube video sharing site, is being sued by Viacom for $1 billion in copyright infringement.

It was no coincidence the companies released the statement at the same time as the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on new media.

"The companies backing these principles believe that they can collectively find a path that fosters creativity while respecting the rights of copyright owners," the group said. "Distributors of copyright-infringing content stifle both technological innovation and artistic creation in ways that ultimately will hurt the consumer and hinder the digital economy."

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the initiative will foster the development of video content. "The cross-industry dialogue that resulted in these principles are an important step forward in establishing the Internet as a great platform for video content -- a platform that allows services to innovate and preserves incentives for all creators, big and small, by respecting copyright," Ballmer said. "With this new, consensus-based foundation, the technology and entertainment industries are demonstrating how we can work collaboratively to build great new video experiences for our mutual customers."

Philippe Dauman, president and CEO of Viacom, said he was delighted that the companies had set out the framework to enforce intellectual property. "These principles will enable innovative technology and great content to come together to spur greater innovation and, most importantly, much richer entertainment experiences for consumers," he said.

However, Dauman also spoke at the Web 2.0 Summit, and said Google should do more to prevent content from being illegally uploaded to YouTube. In what may be a pre-emptive move, Google this week unveiled new technology that allows content owners to automate the identification of copyrighted material on its YouTube online video service, Reuters reported. The technology does not yet allow the blocking of copyrighted content from being uploaded.

At the conference, Dauman, who said Viacom would likely work with Google some day, welcomed Google's recent actions but said he sought a more common standard, Reuters said, according to Reuters.

Analysts said it will likely have to adhere to the guidelines if they become standard industry procedure. "Once an industry initiative is formed, Google will be forced to accept the common model rather than use its own solution as a competitive differentiator," Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey told Reuters.