YouTube is reportedly testing new software that can automatically detect copyrighted material uploaded to its servers. When detected, YouTube will then contact the copyright owner and give them the option of removing it or leaving it up as part of a revenue-sharing deal.
Will this turn YouTube into a TV-show-clip-free zone, leaving it a wasteland of home movies and amateur sketch comedy? Perhaps. Will this keep copyrighted video off the web? No way. For every YouTube that finds religion and starts pulling all copyrighted clips, a dozen other sites will be waiting with open arms to catch the hemorrhaging traffic as people look for clips from last night's Daily Show. Time will tell how this move will impact YouTube's traffic and influence.