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YouTube to require 'tutorials' for copyright offenders

April 14, 2011 |  1:51 pm

Google Inc.'s online video behemoth YouTube toughened its enforcement of copyright laws, requiring violators to attend "copyright school" and pass a test before they can resume uploading videos to the site.

The changes come amid calls -- both in Hollywood and in Congress -- that YouTube do more to combat piracy. Google General Counsel Kent Walker recently defended the search giant's commitment to content protection in testimony this month before the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on intellectual property.

Under the new rules, YouTube users who receive notice that they used someone else's content without authorization must attend "YouTube Copyright School,"  which entails watching a tutorial and passing a quiz to demonstrate they understand the rules governing content. YouTube also created an online resource center to help educate YouTube user about the nuances of copyright law.

"Because copyright law can be complicated, education is critical to ensure that our users understand the rules and continue to play by them," YouTube wrote in a blog post Thursday notifying users of the new policy. "That’s why today we’re releasing a new tutorial on copyright and a redesigned copyright help center. We’re also making two changes to our copyright process to be sure that our users understand the rules, and that users who abide by those rules can remain active on the site."

YouTube suspends users who have received three notices of copyright violation. Under the new rules, longtime YouTube content creators, who have uploaded "thousands" of videos but nonetheless receive a third strike, can avoid suspension if they successfully complete the copyright school and demonstrate "good behavior over time."

Christopher J. Dodd, the new head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the industry's lobbying arm, issued a statement applauding Google's recognition of copyright problems on YouTube -- and calling on the search giant to do even more to deter Internet piracy. 

"To help demonstrate whether its new program is effective, we would hope that Google shares the data regarding its impact on repeat infringers as well as details on the speed in which it takes down illegal content found on its sites," Dodd said in a statement. "We also hope that Google will now take long overdue steps to address its role as a search engine in providing priority listings and rankings for rogue sites offering stolen movies and television shows."

YouTube has had a Content ID system in place since 2007 that scans videos as they are uploaded to determine whether it is someone else's copyrighted work. If the system finds a match, YouTube follows the rules the content owner has put in place to determine what to do with the new video -- whether to block it, track it or attempt to place advertising against it and share the revenue.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski and Richard Verrier

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