Net, media unite on copyright vidsharing

Common ground is scarce in the digital age, but a group of Internet and media companies found some Thursday, agreeing on ways to handle copyrighted material on video-sharing websites.

The guidelines would require sites to use filtering technology to block copyrighted clips from being posted without permission.

Two major firms did not sign on: Time Warner or Google YouTube, the ever-provocative unit of Google, debuted its long-awaited technology to filter copyrighted videos.

Those signing on are Disney, Viacom, CBS, NBC Universal, News Corp., Microsoft, MySpace, Veoh Networks and Dailymotion.

“Today’s announcement marks a significant step in transforming the Internet from a Wild West to a popular medium that respects the rule of law,” said NBC Universal prexy and chief executive Jeff Zucker. “By recognizing the mutual benefits of a technology-based framework to control piracy, technology and content companies have laid the foundation for the lawful growth of video on the Internet.”

YouTube, which is facing a $1 billion lawsuit by Viacom over allegedly illicit postings, issued a statement Thursday that reopened the door for cooperation.

“We appreciate ideas from the various media companies on effective content identification technologies,” said Jeremy Doig, YouTube director of engineering. “We’re glad that they recognize the need to cooperate on these issues, and we’ll keep working with them to refine our industry-leading tools.”

Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman said Thursday he was surprised when Google’s announcement of filtering technology came out just days before the coalition announced its guidelines.

“They knew about this announcement today,” Dauman said at a Web conference in San Francisco. For his part, Dauman said he kept a “completely open mind” when he met a year ago with Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

“They talked then about having a filtering system,” Dauman said. “They can do things very quickly when they want to … I guess they haven’t wanted to.”

Despite Viacom’s pending $1 billion lawsuit against Google, Dauman predicted that “at some point in the future, we’ll work with Google.”

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