Visual Search Startup Takes a Whack at Copyright Issue

Eyealike uses Demo 08 as the stage to unveil its new search-based content protection software.

Visual search provider Eyealike Jan. 28 joined the raft of companies battling online copyright infringement with its new Copyright software.

Intended as an alternative to content protection software from Audible Magic and others, Copyright automatically analyzes hundreds of images, motion and still to find video content that is being aired illegally online.

YouTube, MySpace and others have conjured content protection software to address the copyright boondoggle, using copyright filtering technology that involves audio, pre-tagged text, metadata, watermarks and humans to identify video clips or faces within video clips.

Eyealike President Greg Huess, whose company is introducing Copyright at the Demo 08 show in Palm Desert, Calif., this week, said these approaches ultimately won't work because they can't scale to automatically distinguish between copyright infringement and legitimate use of copyrighted material.

Copyrighted content can be tough to find in sites such as YouTube, particularly because short videos and edited content can be mistaken for content available for fair use.

Eyealike Copyright uses the company's Visual Search Platform (VS), which provides indexing and analysis to process hundreds of images/video clips per minute by still objects, object movement and facial recognition.

Eyealike combs through each piece of content frame by frame, using its visual search algorithms to automatically identify any particular object, such as a face in a video, for every frame, with as great as 98 percent accuracy.

"We believe it gives us the best accuracy," Huess said, noting that testing to date has yielded a zero false-positive rating.

Viacom last March sued YouTube for $1.1 billion for allowing users to air its copyrighted content on the video-sharing site without permission. Google assumed the suit when it acquired YouTube, and the case is pending in court.

YouTube later addressed the copyright issue with YouTube Video Identification tool, which uses digital watermarking technology to find copyrighted content.

However, while YouTube might take immediate steps to take down illegal content, end users would have likely already hidden the content before the content could be tagged, making it nearly impossible for YouTube and other video-sharing sites to identify and take down every piece of the non-licensed piece of content.

Eyealike Copyright could identify the hidden content, running through a whole music video in 15 to 20 seconds.

Huess said Eyealike hopes to sell the Copyright software to user-generated content sites and video content producers.

Pricing is based on an annual licensing fee and varies depending on CPU and storage size, modules purchased and utilization frequency.