Audiosocket Aims to Reduce YouTube Copyright Conflicts

YouTube's Content ID system flags content that have multiple copyright claims, but leaves it up to the claimants to resolve those conflicts among themselves. Here, Buddy Rich's "Big Swing Face" has 9 rights organizations all claiming exclusive, and potentially conflicting, rights to the song.

Audiosocket, a music licensing company, has signed a deal to provide SourceAudio with a new fingerprinting technology aimed at reducing the growing number of conflicts over copyright ownership on YouTube.

The conflicts have been characterized as inadvertant at best and, at worst, a land grab as copyright owners rush to capture a piece of YouTube's rapidly growing revenue pool.

The deal represents Audiosocket's attempt at resolving such conflicts with its License ID product, which places unique watermarks on digital music files verifying where the file originated, who owns the rights and who licensed the file. SourceAudio will use License ID to tag approximately 5 million tracks on its platform from about 3,400 labels and 600 music catalogs.

YouTube currently has two methods for identifying copyrighted content. The first is Content ID, which automatically scans all videos uploaded to its platform for potential copyright infringement. But YouTube's net doesn't always catch everything, so the company has created a way for rights holders to manually hunt for videos that contain content they own.

This second route lets more than 5,000 rights holders claim videos on YouTube and request the company either to take it down or allow YouTube to place ads on the video and garner a portion of the advertising revenue. Increasingly, labels and publishers have opted to leave the videos up and collect their share of the hundreds of millions of dollars that YouTube pays each year to the music industry.

Sometimes, however, a popular video is claimed by multiple rightsholders, creating conflicts of ownership. In these instances, YouTube flags the conflict, as shown above, and relies on the rightsholders to resolve the issues themselves rather than intervene directly. With License ID, Audiosocket hopes to automate that process by adding the equivalent of a digital sticker on source files -- much the same way parents label their kids' belongings before sending them off to camp.

Audiosocket is currently shopping License ID to both rights holders and video platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo, neither of which currently use License ID. While rights owners who use License ID can manually check to see if a video contains their content by copying and pasting the link into License ID's dashboard, the process would be more seamless if the technology is also integrated into video platforms that can automatically match videos with License ID's database.

Based in New Orleans, Audiosocket launched in 2009 as a music licensing platform for independent bands and composers looking to garner synchronization revenue from online videos and other digital content creators looking to easily locate and license music for anywhere from $2 to $98, depending on the usage. Audiosocket so far has raised $3.5 million in two rounds of financing, said the company's chief executive, Brent McCrossen. Investors include Ted Ackerley of Ackerley Partners.