YouTube Hasn't Addressed Japan Issues as Deadline Looms

A group of 23 Japanese entertainment industry associations and broadcasters has yet to receive a response from YouTube to complaints raised earlier this month regarding copyright infringement on the popular online video site.

The Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) sent a letter with the signature of the 23 organizations to YouTube Chief Executive Officer Chad Hurley and Chief Technology Officer Steve Chen on Dec. 5, urging the company to take a more proactive approach in identifying and removing copyrighted material from the site.

In the letter, the group asked for a reply no later than Dec. 15.

"We haven’t received a reply yet, but December 15 has only just begun in the U.S.," said Kosuke Hayashi, a spokesman for JASRAC in Tokyo. "I don’t think they’ll ignore the letter, and we might get something later in the day."

YouTube didn’t respond late Thursday to a request for comment.

Shortly after the letter was sent, YouTube confirmed in a brief statement that it had been received and was being reviewed. "Meanwhile, we will continue to provide content companies in Japan and elsewhere with tools to easily notify us of unauthorized uses of their content so we can promptly remove it, in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act," it said.

At present, YouTube deals with copyright infringement by asking rights holders to send complaints in written form by postal mail, e-mail or fax with details of the clips claimed to infringe copyright and other documents. The clips are then deleted if the documents sent satisfy YouTube as to the infringement claims. In their letter, the Japanese rights holders called on YouTube to create an alternative to this procedure that would in part utilize technology to identify infringing clips as they are uploaded or published.

It followed the deletion by YouTube of almost 30,000 video clips in October after a group of content companies complained to the site. However, no sooner had the clips been deleted than new ones began appearing on the site to take their place.

YouTube has been growing in popularity among Japanese Internet users. This has surprised some observers, as the site doesn’t offer a Japanese language interface or instructions. As part of their request, the rights holders want YouTube to post a message on its homepage in Japanese that warns against uploading copyrighted content.

In addition to JASRAC, the other names on the letter include the Motion Picture Producers’ Association of Japan, the Japan Video Software Association, the Association of Japanese Animations, all of the major commercial TV broadcasters, the Japan Satellite Broadcasting Association, the Recording Industry Association of Japan and Yahoo Japan.

-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)

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