YouTube Uploads Hit 72 Hours A Minute: How Can That Ever Be Pre-Screened For 'Objectionable' Material?

from the moore's-law-strikes-again dept

YouTube has announced that 72 hours of video is now being uploaded to its service every minute. Earlier this year, the statistic was that 60 hours of video was uploaded to its service every minute:

In 2007 we started at six hours [of uploads per minute], then in 2010 we were at 24 hours, then 35, then 48, and now…60 hours of video every minute, an increase of more than 25 percent in the last eight months.

This year, a 25% increase will probably take around around six months. In other words, the rate at which uploads occur is accelerating. Presumably at some point things will level off, but there’s no sign of that yet, and it’s not hard to see YouTube video uploads hitting 120 hours a minute or more.

Now consider the calls from some governments that Google and others pre-screen user-generated material. Just how do they think anyone can do that when every second there’s one or more hours of new material flooding in? The challenge is particularly acute for video, which does not lend itself to automatic screening, unlike text, say. Such machine-based approaches are still extremely rough, and will either let through material governments want censored, or else err massively in the other direction, blocking all kinds of harmless footage.

As Google’s latest figures for YouTube demonstrate, the mismatch between what governments want and what is possible is only going to get worse, thanks to Moore’s Law and its analogs for storage and bandwidth. It’s not clear how this is going to be resolved, but with more and more politicians calling for “something to be done”, the chances of a good outcome based on rational policy making don’t look good.

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Comments on “YouTube Uploads Hit 72 Hours A Minute: How Can That Ever Be Pre-Screened For 'Objectionable' Material?”

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DannyB (profile) says:

Bu, bu, but . . . . Piracy!

The 72 hours per minute shows the ridiculousness of Hollywood’s argument that YouTube is fueled by piracy.

At this rate, how long would it take to upload everything ever put onto a frame of film by Hollywood?

How can they argue with a straight face that YouTube is all about piracy?

Wake up!

YouTube is all about kick in the balls videos.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Automating filtering

May or may not be prohibitive.

Isn’t the RIAA allowed to put ‘signatures’ of their music into YouTube’s filters so it can find possibly infringing things if it matches? Seems like that could be done for video relatively easily. Maybe you don’t even need the ‘video’ portion but just the audio portion?

Of course it begs the question if I just change the sampling or something else in the stream (like less than a frame per second that wouldn’t be noticeable to humans) would that change it enough to once again bypass the filters.

Just like Mike usually makes the argument that blocking a site because it’s current majority use is illegal isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to say you could never auto-filter user-generated content in the future when processing power catches up with the leveling off of input at some future date.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Automating filtering

The thing is, not even humans can filter that crap with certainty thus showing automatic ways also will fail miserably, you see to do something you at least need proof that it works, so far what people can observe in the real world is that filtering this kind of stuff doesn’t work, not even when done by a human the level of errors is gigantic and so how do you expect a machine to fare any better?

You see I know people can regrow organs and tissue because if it was impossible you and I wouldn’t be here I can observe that and thus I know it is possible and I know the problem lies on my knowledge of how things works for not being able to do it, on the other hand I never observed and can’t find any analogue filter that works for content, can you show any filter that works and doesn’t censor important and protected speech?

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: Automating filtering

I just finished writing up a facetious cost analysis for implementing the kind of screening everyone but Google might agree to were cost, privacy, and due process not an issue. It got to the point where writing the math out in LaTeX on my blog was easier, then it got to the point where it could stand on its own. Anyway, as far as I could reasonably figure, it would cost in the neighborhood of $36,829,468,840 per year to have live judges scrutinize every minute of new video uploaded to youtube. I had to make a few leaps of faith coming up with assumed values when it came to how long they look at and consider each video, but in the end it only made about an order of magnitude difference.

WysiWyg (profile) says:

Re: Re: Automating filtering

I first made that kind of guess, and actually landed on 40 billion (I made a lot of rounding). But then I realized that you don’t need the judges to watch EVERY video. You could have a first level of just “regular joes” that does an initial screening. I started to try and figure out how much that would cost, but quickly arrived at the figure “humongous” anyway so…

Did you do my mistake of not taking into account that they would have to check the videos based on every jurisdiction in the world? Cause that would probably cost more.

xenomancer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Automating filtering

No, I didn’t account for that, but it would be additive anyway. Just add the salary for a judge in each jurisdiction to the base salary of a judge in Silicon Valley. Or, since they’ll likely need to work there anyway (so the MAFIAA can ensure no one is looking away from the monitors), just multiply the salary by the number of jurisdictions. That’s already 51 for the US (50 state + 1 federal competing sets of rules), and there are 207 countries (last I checked by the UN’s standards) the potential increase in cost is more akin to a drunken dart game than a number worth discussing in jest.

I think accounting for other jurisdictions brings this little thought exercise from humorous hyperbole to the serious rigor of the reported losses to the industry (a factor of ~1000 larger) and I shan’t be bothered to defend my method as being even remotely useful when it becomes more absurd than the method I am mocking.

But, for shitsngiggles, take your rounded off number ($40b) and add three zeros. $40,000,000,000,000. Now that is a budget request that takes some serious balls of steel. Someone find me Jon St. John!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Automating filtering

Uh. You assume filters work. Please tell that to all the people who have had their work mistakenly filtered and have had no idea how to file a counternotice. Like my 14-year-old sister.

Throwing automated takedowns and DMCA notices at people is a huge breach of public trust and proper functioning of the legal system. Those notices are signed to the effect that lying on them is perjury. Not that anyone ever gets to enforce that, but they’re essentially worded to scare everyone, including legitimate uploaders, away from replying at all.

WysiWyg (profile) says:

Re: Automating filtering

Let’s go crazy and assume that someone manages to make a filter that is 99% effective, and someone else waves a magic wand that makes it so that it doesn’t just filter content but actual infringement.

That leaves us with just over 1000 hours worth of video A DAY that would get incorrectly targeted. And let’s be honest here, it would err on the side of false positives, not false negatives, leaving us with 1000+ hours worth of video a day being taken down despite being completely legal.

How could you EVER reconcile the idea of blocking any legal speech, let alone that amount, with the idea of Freedom of Speech?

Lord Binky says:


72 hours x 60 minutes = 4320 minutes uploaded per minute. So we just need 4320 people to pre-screen one minutes worth of video every minute, 24 hours a day, so we’ll likely need 3 shifts to be reasonable. That’s a minimum of 12960 people now. And of course they won’t be working 7 days a week so we’ll need more people, and people to oversee those people, and technical support. Oh and we’ll definitely need more HR people to increase the number of screener’s as that seems to be increasing at a decent rate too…. Anyways, google’s got money right?

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Bu, bu, but . . . . Piracy!

Bah, shows get produced at a rate of one episode per week for 24 weeks out of a year.

In any given year, there’s only a few dozen new shows…

Let’s see; assuming an average (generous) show length of 44 minutes (one hour minus commercials) and 100 (very generous!) new shows each year… 2 seasons per year…

So, (44 minutes/(shows * episode)) * (100 shows) * (24 episodes) = ~105600 minutes of new content each year.

At the present rate of YouTube uploads, that’s (x/72) 1466.6 minutes or 24.4 hours.

In short: according to my guesstimate, all of the new television shows produced in a year equals about one days worth of new YouTube content.

Lord Binky says:

Automating filtering

That doesn’t seem quite right, if future google has more processing power, don’t the pirates? So google leveraging more processing power to stop infringment is countered by the infringer having more processing power to circumvent google’s filters…I don’t see a reasonable end…I’ll wait for future me to figure it out, I’m sure i’ll have more processing power at that time.

Lord Binky says:


They would but the lawyers haven’t finished the paperwork yet. Those lawyers are so expensive, I bet they can’t wait for their lawyers to come up with a solution to all their problems so they can quit spending more money on lawyers than they could ever directly/indirectly bring in with lawyers… Speaking of, those campaign donates are really expensive too…odd..

DannyB (profile) says:

Bu, bu, but . . . . Piracy!

> Well to be fair, 500 TV channels pushing you content
> 24/7 is a LOT of material to upload ๐Ÿ˜‰

The fact that there is nothing good on is why I’m planning to get rid of cable.

It’s all crap. For example, the History channel is all about conspiracies, aliens, theology from people who obviously haven’t read the very texts they talk about, etc. Various “science” type channels are about haunted houses, ghosts, etc. Then there is reality tv.

Not only is it all crap, it’s all reruns of the same crap.

Jose Seeckspaque says:

Memo to Hollywood:

You’re slimy deviousness allowed you to gain the upper hand and royally screw the masses for far too long.

You lied, cheated, stole and extorted the public and bribed the highest levels of politics with complete abandon.

You got fat, rich, lazy and cocky and your “product” quality level came to define a new low to the meaning of the term “sucks rocks”.

Now you’re dead and we’re dancing on your graves.

It serves you right. The game is over and you’re finished. You lose.

Now go line up at the gates of hell behind Osama bin Deadman.

DannyB (profile) says:

Automating filtering

Filtering is not just about processing power.

It is about having technology to “recognize” content. That requires some basic level of sophistication if not some very basic level of intelligence.

Notice I said recognize CONTENT. Not recognize INFRINGEMENT.

Even Hollywood is unable to determine if a YouTube video is infringing. The left hand uploads authorized content that the right hand recognizes and issues a takedown for.

If Hollywood can’t determine infringement, how can YouTube? At best, and that is at best, you can only recognize content. Not recognize infringement.

Finally, as an example of just how well this technology works, I would point no further than recognizing someone’s nature video with birds singing as being owned by a major content producer, who then goes on to insist that they own it and it is a legitimate takedown.

The reason this nature video was flagged had nothing to do with processing power alone. It has to do with the recognition system not being sophisticated enough, let alone having some level of what we think of as intelligence.

Anonymous Coward says:


Either way, a good psychic costs more.

If they have these specialty prepared herbs they have more expenses, they must pay for these herbs. These herbs require special treatment and magic spells casted upon them, they have to be boiled in one of those big black witch pots and require very expensive ingredients combined with a very difficult and labor intensive recipe, which costs money, in order for it to work.

and a good psychic lawyer spent years and years acquiring his Ph.D in both law and psychic psychology. Such an education requires a huge monetary investment, not to mention the opportunity cost of the lawyers time (ie: could have been working instead of going to school), these psychic lawyers often need to pay off their loans. So a good psychic lawyer requires very high pay.

Anonymous Coward says:


Pocket change, those are just fixed costs. The real expense is in the labor hours and the ingredients in the soup. That special soup only lasts half an hour before the psychic effects start to fade off and you need a whole new preparation. and that expensive soup can’t be stored, it must be consumed within the first half hour (assuming it’s kept warm) for it to be effective and you need to consume a good amount of it too for it to really work well. So one whole kettle can feed, maybe, 20 psychics for half an hour and the preparation itself takes three hours and requires five people to work on it during those three hours. One person needs to read out the spells, and they must be read slowly, clearly, and loudly or the psychic faeries might not hear a word properly and the whole thing won’t work. Another person has to stir the soup properly during the readings, failure to do so will negate the psychic powers, and another person must constantly check the temperature and adjust the stove accordingly. It’s a whole very difficult and expensive process and you don’t really know if it works until after someone consumes the soup. Then someone has to think of a number from one to a hundred and ask the soup consumer what the number is and if they get the wrong answer then it didn’t work and all of the expensive ingredients must be thrown away and the whole process needs to be redone (and some of those ingredients can be poisonous if the spell wasn’t cast properly, the spell negates the poison assuming it was cast properly. If the spell isn’t cast properly a consumer can wind up in the hospital, so this is very very dangerous stuff). The pot must be very thoroughly cleaned first. If they get the right answer this needs to be repeated twice more to make sure it wasn’t by mere coincidence.

and when preparing the next meal, all of the previous ingredients in the previous meal must be thoroughly cleaned out of the pot with distilled water, tap water won’t due because residual chemicals could spoil the process. Typically, this distilled water costs them 25 cents a gallon (in bulk, that is, if you own all the equipment) and it must be heated and administered through a high powered hose.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not normally a “We need a law” crowd, but in this case i think somethign along the lines of:

“All Youtube content should be reviewed by a duly elected Congressional Representative or Senator”

That coupled with the Constitutional limit on their numbers should effectively neutralize them.

Yes, YouTube would suck but they’d be way too busy to screw up anything else. Seems like a pretty fair trade to me.

bob (profile) says:

Easy-- make people personally responsible for the infringement

Right now, Big Search wants us to believe that no one can ever screen it. It’s a vision that suits their bottom line and this website is never short of apologies for Big Search’s business plans.

But it’s a very easy thing to regulate. First, Big Search requires everyone to have an account before they upload videos. Most of the people already do. Then if a DMCA notice comes in, Big Search could ding the uploaders $10, $20 or even $50.

They could even give this money to the original creator, but I doubt they would do that.

I bet that even a $1 fee would immediately encourage people to self-police. Problem solved.

Alas, Big Search might need to actually pay the content creators a fair share of the revenues and so I bet they’ll avoid this as long as they can.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Easy-- make people personally responsible for the infringement

this website is never short of apologies for Big Search’s business plans.

Why can’t you just say Google? To be an “apologist” requires that you believe what you “apologizing” for. Since most people here (including myself) disagree with your notion of what Google’s business plans are, most of us can’t be apologists for them.

But on to the meat of your suggestion. The only way that it could work is if Google had something more than just an account. They’d have to supply a credit card number or some other way that they could be billed for your suggested fines. So you’re essentially suggesting something that will remove much, if not most, of what makes YouTube valuable as it will exclude most people who either wisely don’t have a credit card or wisely aren’t willing to hand out their CC number in exchange for the risk of wrongful punishment.

Which brings me to the other problem: it does nothing to make it easier to determine what is infringing and what is not, except that with your plan, false accusations of infringement would come with a real financial penalty instead of just having the content wrongly removed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Easy-- make people personally responsible for the infringement

Bob! I can’t believe my lucky day to stumble upon you in a thread.

First off, if you mean Google, why not just say Google? Unless you really mean Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. In which case, “search engines” would do just fine. But I guess that doesn’t make them sound ~scary~ enough.

Most accounts don’t have any means of charging money. I have several free accounts linked to Youtube one way or another, and none of them have a credit card or internet pay system attached. How would they charge me? They have no mechanism for getting money out of me, since they have no idea where I live or how to contact me outside of email.

Besides, Youtube already provides a system where content owners can make money off of other people uploading their works (or even transformative works based on theirs, which is a lot fuzzier legally, imo). That, by the way, involves voluntary use of people’s credit cards and paypal accounts.

Really, it boils down to this: The internet is not a parking garage. Random companies can’t hand out tickets. If you suddenly found charges like that on your credit card, you would cancel them immediately, right? The chargebacks would be insane, people would cry fraud (legitimately, since the charges weren’t authorized, and that’s a hard and fast rule with credit cards), and credit card companies would cease to do business with any company that tried it.

Please try to understand that the internet does not work like meatspace and never has. The rules are different here because the conditions are different.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Easy-- make people personally responsible for the infringement

“Right now, Big Search wants us to believe that no one can ever screen it. It’s a vision that suits their bottom line and this website is never short of apologies for Big Search’s business plans.”

Right now, GOOGLE (because that’s who we all know you mean by “big search”) DOES NOT us to believe that at all. They can screen all that content, it would just require too many people and be too cost inefficient, which affects their bottom line. That’s of course not getting into how any single person can tell what is or isn’t copyright infringing material at a glance. When even the copyright holders can’t make that determination, it renders the rest of it irrelevant and moot.

“But it’s a very easy thing to regulate. First, Big Search requires everyone to have an account before they upload videos. Most of the people already do. Then if a DMCA notice comes in, Big Search could ding the uploaders $10, $20 or even $50.”

Ah, I see. So what you want to do away with is due process. From now on, any DMCA violation automatically gets you essentially a “ticket”. Now I wonder, if it turns out the DMCA violation/warning/notice was in error, is the person being “dinged” entitled to their money back? Who pays it back? The Big Search Boogeyman or the person making the now proven false claim? Also, since it was a FALSE DMCA notice, which has those making it claim that all is true under penalty of perjury, will those making such false claims that are now proven as being untrue going to be adequately punished? Let me repeat that one important part, PENALTY OF PERJURY. You want to hold the individuals up to an insane standard, one good turn deserves the other. In fact, how about we start now? False DMCA takedowns are automatically punished in to the maximum extant of the law. Sounds reasonable to me.

“They could even give this money to the original creator, but I doubt they would do that.”

See my bit above above false takedowns. And not being able to know who is a copyright holder with any reasonable, much less easy, certainty. We’ll also overlook the fact that there is already a system in place to monetize and pay the copyright holders for any material posted on Youtube, even stuff there without their permission.

But, let’s run with your silly comment. So, they take that “ding” and give it to the original creator, care to be more specific? Are we talking about whoever ORIGINALLY created the content that got dinged or are we talking about the current copyright holder? The two are not always the same. What about if the original creator is deceased, do we give it to their heirs? I want to know bob, feel free to answer this. Then of course, you say Google won’t give up that money. But they’re the ones doing all the work. What you want is for some person doing absolutely nothing to suddenly be entitled to money that they haven’t worked for. Sounds quite piratey to me! Getting something for nothing? Oh no no no no no. That is the epitome of entitlement and is proving right now to be the downfall of humanity. Google does the work and is getting the shaft? How can you advocate such a thing. Of course, as I previously said, Google is a business at the end of the day. They have to pay someone to check that content and someone to write the software that can “ding” a person’s credit card. Why should they shoulder the financial burden of paying for all that? I feel in all fairness that they should be entitled to an appropriate portion that $10, $20 or even $50 that is being dinged.

“I bet that even a $1 fee would immediately encourage people to self-police. Problem solved.”

Do you know how much tickets are for speeding? They are way more than $1. Yet somehow, despite this rather hefty financial burden, people still speed. The horror! /s

So you think a $1 fee would immediately get people to self-police? I’m trying to be nice, so I won’t call you an idiot, but let’s just say you’re incredibly naive. I can spend a dollar easily enough. And have no problem doing so. A $1 fine isn’t going to do anything but make people shrug and pause all of 5 seconds before doing it again and playing the odds that they won’t get caught.

Problem not solved.

“Alas, Big Search might need to actually pay the content creators a fair share of the revenues and so I bet they’ll avoid this as long as they can.”

Ah yes, Big Search not wanting to pay the content creators. Sounds vaguely familiar. Wasn’t Kenny Rogers suing his label recently for unpaid royalties? Wasn’t there an article about a band on Victory records doing the same thing? Eminem? Etc. I could go on if you’d like bob. Want me to?

That’s also ignoring, quite deliberately I suspect, the fact that Big Search is already giving the content creators money for content that is being uploaded to Youtube.

I think I’m done here. It’s been interesting dismantling your comment and your grandtarded (it’s a new word I made, short for: GRANDLY RETARDED) plan to solve things in a manner beneficial to apparently not all, just some (Big Search and possibly innocent people getting the shaft, but let’s make sure Big Labels and Big Studios get paid, FOR DOING NOTHING, and we’ll gladly ignore that they routinely abuse the DMCA takedown system because that’s how I’m sure you roll bobby and prefer things to be).

Sigh. Honest question. Do you ever read what you write and think for a second that despite being in English and being for the most part grammatically correct that there is still something off about it, even if you can’t quite put your finger on it?

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Easy-- make people personally responsible for the infringement

If you have no knowledge of all the many DMCA notices that were sent by people who have no legitimate claim to the content involved, despite the many examples of this posted on Techdirt, including the one I linked to, then I’d have to ask what you’re smoking.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Too big to be legal. What a wonderful defense.

Well, except that they are legal. So, that’s a pretty good defense. What they’re trying to avoid is stupid laws that would make them illegal.

Considering how much artists get paid by YouTube (hello, ContentID), and how much the major labels need to use their infrastructure (hello, Vevo), I’d say that it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep YouTube legal.

Lennart Regebro says:

This seems reasonable and doable.

How to do it? Easy! You just tell the governments that you will implement this as soon as they have hired 26.000 people to do the screening.

That’s what it would take with todays level, assuming a pre-screener can watch videos 55 of every 60 minutes in an hour, and works for 8 hours a day, 200 days a year.

But then of course, once they have hired the people and bought the computers, and the huge office, it will have increased. So probably they’ll need to hire enough people for 120 hours a minute. That’s some 43.000 employees.

And I don’t see it leveling off there. We already are at 72 hours and the amount of people in the world who have access to video cameras and equipment (ie high end phones and computers) will increase a lot. Probably tenfold at least.

So in the long run, say five years or so, I’d assume you have to hire at least half a million people to do this pre-screening.

With the support staff, people that clean and fix the computers etc, we are probably talking an organization that would end up upwards a million employees.

For what? To make sure all the videos on YouTube are family-friendly.

Sounds reasonable to me. I’d gladly pay the taxes for that. After all, WE HAVE TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN!

Anonymous Coward says:

Confusing messages from IP owners.

I upload a lot of music related content to YouTube. The three varieties are, Band interviews, Live shows, and TV appearances.

This band is VERY taper friendly (They let fans film/record their live shows)Some live shows were taped by audience members and some have been shown on TV.(MTV, VH1, Etc.) It doesn’t seem to matter if the show was fan filmed or taped off of TV and uploaded, it’s a total crap-shoot as to what will get flagged.

I’ve uploaded 15 year old footage from MTV, and got flagged by UMG, (They let the video stay up, but put ads on it) No hassle from MTV.

I’ve uploaded a fan filmed live show, and been flagged for ONE of the songs in a 20 song set list, again UMG. (They let the video stay up, but put ads on it)

I have rarely had a video blocked. Most of the time I just get the notice that a portion of my video has been flagged, and that my account status is all cool, but “You may see ads on your video.”

I know perfectly well that what I’m uploading does not belong to me. But the message that the content owners, and YouTube is giving to me is, either, we can’t figure out who owns this IP, so you’re fine for now. Or, Hey, you’ve been a naughty boy by uploading this video, so to punish you we’re going to put ads on your video to make some money.

I’m fine with the ads being put on my videos by content owners. It’s better than having the videos yanked down. I’m not a YouTube partner, and I don’t make any money by spending my time uploading. I do it for the love of the music.

I guess what I’m saying is…. There needs to be a list somewhere that shows who is ok with us uploading their stuff and who isn’t. A list like…

UMG….OK to upload….Ads will appear on video
Sony….NOT OK to upload….Video will be blocked
Warner Bros….NOT OK to upload….Video will be blocked

So at least we go into this with a list of who’s ok and who isn’t. Because they ALL say don’t upload our IP to YouTube, but when you do, they sure do show up and start making money on it, which I’m fine with.

Just so I can say that I tried to stay on topic.

I usually know within 5-10 minutes if one of my videos has upset the content matching super computer.

“Your video is still available worldwide. In some cases ads may appear next to your video. Please note that the video’s status can change, if the policies chosen by the content owners change.”

How much money would all these IP holders lose if everyone with a YouTube account deleted any of their videos that had been flagged, and now has ads on it?

The way I see it, I’m taking the risk of losing my YouTube account every time I upload, and they are making money from what I upload. How in the world can this be a bad thing for them?

Jayce Cameron says:

Boiled down, the fact of the matter is...

Let me put things into perspective.
I can say bad things about my boss…. it’s my freedom of speech. But if he hears me, I lose my job. It’s common sense and the legal system finding harmony.
The harmony in this case would be that anyone can post anything on youtube, but the person they are infringing on finds it, they report it, it’s investigated and if found to be truly breaking rules, removed and possibly fined if the person was making any sort of monetary funds from it.
Short of that posting an infringement on copyright and nobody ever views it, does it really matter?
Or shall I rephrase that as, “if a tree falls in the Forrest, doe sit make a sound?”
answer.. it doesn’t bloody matter if nobody was there to hear it at all!

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