This week, Google launched, in beta, a long-awaited technology to detect copyright-violating submissions on YouTube. Writing on the official Google blog, YouTube product manager David King said the program, called Video Identification, "goes above and beyond our legal responsibilities."

"It will help copyright holders identify their works on YouTube, and choose what they want done with their videos: whether to block, promote, or even -- if a copyright holder chooses to license their content to appear on the site -- monetize their videos," he wrote.

The technology appears about six months after Viacom -- owner of Paramount, Dreamworks, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central -- sued Google for $1 billion over copyright infringement on YouTube. The suit said that 160,000 clips of Viacom-owned content appeared on the service more than 1.5 billion times.

Technology Falls Short

Appearing at the Web 2.0 Summit Thursday, Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman said Video Identification falls short of what is needed and that he doesn't intend to drop the suit. "I don't think we're quite there," he said. "Google is a very high-quality company with a lot of very smart people. They can do things when they want to. They haven't wanted to until this point. They have a lot of tools, but they're not perfect."

What nobody wants, Dauman went on to say, is a proprietary system that benefits one company to the exclusion of others, yet that is exactly what Google is offering. He advocated a standard solution for the problem. The content industry, he said, doesn't want to deal with different technologies from every video-sharing site, a task that is "beyond the capacity of a company like ours, let alone smaller ones."

Showing that Viacom is willing to embrace online video -- on its own terms -- Dauman announced that Comedy Channel was posting about 13,000 clips from "The Daily Show" on its Web site. "We invented fragmentation in the cable world," he said. "We are going to do that with a lot of our content going forward. We believe in following the consumer. We've always done that in our history."

Tool Requires Help?

Dauman said the suit against Google was filed reluctantly. "We didn't choose to go that route. We had to protect our business. We took a step reluctantly because we had to."

A notice on YouTube said that "no technology can tell legal from infringing material without the cooperation of the content owners themselves." This means that copyright holders who want to use and help refine the Video Identification system "will be providing the necessary information" to help YouTube recognize the work.