YouTube Rife With Pirated Movies: Report

Films from Major Studios Have Been Viewed Hundreds of Millions of Times in Past Year, WSJ Says 2/07/2013 3:33 PM Eastern

Despite its system designed to catch illegally uploaded material, Google's YouTube is hosting several hundred copyrighted feature-length films that have been viewed hundreds of millions of times over the past year, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Among the movies are those from Walt Disney Co. -- including Fantasia, Peter Pan and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs -- as well as Sony, MGM and Warner Bros., according to the Journal.

Google has provided a tool for copyright owners, dubbed Content ID, to identify and optionally block material that has been uploaded to the site or sell ads against it. Introduced in 2007, Google says more than 4,000 media companies now use Content ID and the system has identified more than 200 million copyrighted videos that were uploaded.

According to Google, the Content ID systems scans over 100 years' worth of video every day, and uses more than 8 million reference files (500,000-plus hours of material). More than one-third of YouTube's total monetized views come from Content ID, the company says.

Asked for a response to the Journal article, a YouTube spokeswoman said in an email, "We’ve invested heavily in copyright and content management tools to give rights holders control of their content on YouTube. In addition to supporting the DMCA notice and takedown process, YouTube’s Content ID system gives rights holders an automated way to identify, block and even make money from their content on the platform. We partner with more than 4,000 media companies on Content ID, and with them are continually expanding our database of millions of reference files to power our automated system."

In a lawsuit that's still pending, Viacom sued YouTube in early 2007, seeking more than $1 billion in damages and alleging massive, willful copyright infringement. After an initial victory in the case by Google and YouTube, a federal appeals court last year said a “reasonable jury” could find that Google’s video-sharing site knew certain pirated content was being illegally shared by users, overturning a lower court that had granted YouTube blanket immunity under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

YouTube remains the most popular video site on the Internet. In December 2012, it attracted some 153 million unique U.S. viewers who watched 13.2 billion videos -- representing 34% of all online videos -- for an average of 6.5 hours during the month, according to research firm comScore.

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