NBC Scrambles to Stem Olympic Piracy

Network Tries to Stomp Out Copyright Violators

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NBC scrambled late last week to send takedown notices to Web sites that carried illegal copies of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in advance of the network's broadcast on August 8, according to the New York Times. The network chose to tape-delay the broadcast by 12 hours so it could air the opening ceremonies during prime-time in the United States. That decision led viewers around the world to hunt out newsfeeds on foreign broadcasters' Web sites and find clips on YouTube, the paper reported.

NBC is offering 2,200 hours of live coverage online up from two hours just two years ago, making this Olympics the first truly broadband Games. NBC said it has implemented tools and forged relationships with Web sites to reduce its exposure to piracy but Web traffic expert Eric Garland of media measurement firm Big Champagne predicts that millions of Internet users around the world will view illegal clips during the event. "But for some moments from the Games, instant-replay types, they will be viewed millions of times, including unauthorized clips on DailyMotion, YouTube, streaming sites and others ... in ways that weren't paid for by broadcasters who have secured exclusive rights," he said.

NBC's piracy measures include digital watermarking to "tag" the video that originates from the Olympics. That can help track offenders. YouTube said NBC is using its copyright filtering technology to prevent the distribution of illegal clips on the world's most popular video site. The network also has charged a handful of employees with scouring the Web every day to look for pirated videos from the Olympics. Clips are likely continue to proliferate on pirate sites, peer-to-peer TV forums, and live video sites during the Games.
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