Fox Exec Sees Solution to Copyright Issues

NEW YORK Better filtering technology and revenue-sharing deals will head off most litigation between content owners and video-sharing sites like YouTube, predicted a Fox media executive.

“There is demand for our content on these platforms,” said Jonathan Cody, vice president of Fox Digital Media, at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference here. “We are very interested in the technological solutions first.”

For now, however, the legal environment for YouTube and its smaller peers remains murky. BusinessWeek reported that Google was in talks with major media companies about licensing deals that could net the firms upwards of $100 million apiece.

“We have a legal system that is not allowing the business models to work as they should,” said Aaron Cohen, CEO of Bolt Media, which operates a social networking site that has been sued by Universal Music Group for copyright infringement, comparing the current state of the industry to basketball when the “four corners” strategy stifled the game.

While not the first choice, Cody said litigation would remain part of the arsenal of media companies in dealing with the unauthorized dispersion of their content, but the preferred route is to develop a business model that benefits all parties.

“We take a realistic, two-pronged approach,” he said.

In striking licensing deals with Warner Music and Universal Music shortly before Google inked a deal to buy it, YouTube said it would develop so-called “fingerprinting” technology that would identify copyrighted content uploaded to the site and give the owners the option of removing it or sharing in the ad revenue.

Further complicating the matter is the uncertain ad model of video-sharing sites. Like YouTube, Bolt does not show pre-roll commercials, the most common form of video ads, because it would result in a smaller audience, Cohen said.

“We’re in a market that values extremely high traffic,” he said.