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Disney asks YouTube to crack down on copyright misuse

By Reuters and Matt Whipp

Posted on 30 Nov 2006 at 12:09

A senior Walt Disney executive said she sees limits to how long her company will tolerate copyright infringement of its programming by users of Google's online video sharing site YouTube.

Anne Sweeney, the head of Disney's entertainment and news television properties, said YouTube needed to do more than enforce its take-down policy in response to complaints about video piracy from media owners such as Disney.

'We've had the phone calls, which are when we see clips of our content going up,' Sweeney told the Reuters Media Summit in New York. 'We have called and asked (YouTube) to take them (our video programming) down.'

Disney and YouTube need to hold further discussions to resolve ongoing issues of copyright infringement, she said.

'It's not efficient and I think there is a larger conversation to be had. But this is the world we are living in. This is the reality,' she said. 'It is not the efficient way to deal with it. I think a larger conversation is in order.'

Web sites that allow users to post their own content argue that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects the Web sites from liability for copyright infringement if they take down illegal material when notified.

But the millions of users on the more popular Web sites, such as YouTube and News Corp.'s online social networking site MySpace, have made removing pirated material quickly a difficult process to manage.

The Disney executive was asked whether her company had considered filing a lawsuit against YouTube as other media companies have threatened to do in recent months.

'I don't know. I am not a lawyer, so I am not going to speculate on that,' Sweeney responded.

Two weeks ago, Vivendi's Universal Music Group (UMG) sued MySpace, accusing it of allowing users to pirate UMG music videos. UMG has a revenue-sharing deal with YouTube.

Sweeney said the two have not held talks on any licensing deal involving revenue-sharing agreements like those YouTube has signed with UMG, Warner Music Group, Sony BMG Entertainment and CBS Corp. for use of their video property.

Sony BMG is a joint venture of electronics maker Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann.

Conversely, Disney has been alone in making its catalogue available on iTunes, while its counterparts have railed against the inadequacies of Apple's FairPlay DRM. But then it does help having Steve Jobs on the board.

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