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Media companies seeking to protect their copyrights while allowing programming to proliferate across the Internet as a free marketing tool have been forced into a difficult balancing act that has polarized the media industry.

MYSPACE TO BATTEN
DOWN THE HATCHES

Online Social Network Offering Tools to Block Out Copyrighted Materials
It’s time to put up or shut up.

News Corp.’s online social network MySpace will now offer free software tools to let media companies block the uploading of unauthorized video clips, expanding on an earlier program to block unauthorized music.

The popular service has licensed technology developed by a Silicon Valley company, Audible Magic, that helps identify the digital audio signature in a video file. Videos with audio tracks that match those in its database will be blocked.

The move comes a week after Viacom ordered the removal of more than 100,000 clips from Google’s online video service YouTube, which it said had been slow to offer reliable ways to block unauthorized clips of top shows

Media companies seeking to protect their copyrights while allowing programming to proliferate across the Internet as a free marketing tool have been forced into a difficult balancing act that has polarized the media industry. Google’s partners, which include most of the music labels, say they are holding out hope the company will be able to solve the issue.

News Corp., which owns the 20th Century Fox movie and television studios and the Fox television network as well as MySpace, subpoenaed YouTube last month to learn the identities of users who had uploaded episodes of the hit show 24 ahead of its TV broadcast as well as episodes of The Simpsons.

MySpace said it was already helping companies block the uploading of unauthorized song files and this was an expansion into video. It also said it was using this system to block both audio and video files owned by the Universal Music Group.

MySpace’s move leapfrogs YouTube’s efforts to help identify and block videos uploaded by users without copyright permission. YouTube does not screen for copyright-protected videos during the uploading process.

In a conference call after an earnings announcement on Jan. 31, Google chief executive Eric E. Schmidt, said the company would roll out such a system in stages, but gave no timeline.

YouTube had previously said similar technology would be made available at the end of last year.