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Google Video: Asleep At The Wheel

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen plenty of press coverage of Google's Video store, most of it focusing the DRM technology and incomplete functionality. The prevailing opinion seems to be that even though the service is presented as a beta version, Google (GOOG) announced the Video Store well before it was ready for prime time.

But the Google Video Store has a problem that goes far beyond the technology. Google's has shown a remarkable lack of responsibility to the market for the content they are hosting. Google's own video program policies, state that the company can refuse to host or link to content that falls under any of the following categories:

• illegal content
• pornography or obscenity
• hate or incitement of violence
• graphic violence or other acts resulting in serious injury or death
• invasions of personal privacy
• violations of copyright among others.

But Google is hosting videos that most viewers and content providers would consider covered by these categories. A quick scan of the service reveals videos or links to sites containing nudity, explicit sexual acts, people snorting and smoking drugs, and instructions on how to steal from stores—right on the same page as content from established and mainstream providers like CBS and the NBA.

Videos with titles like "your mom's a slut," "what the ----," "rape and dominatrix," "wicked a-- ---," "live adult Webcam," and others even more explicit and offensive can be found simply by going to the video.google.com site. In fact, in many cases you don't even have to search for them as they come up listed as the "popular" videos on the home page, a clear indication that these clips are being watched and that Google should be well aware of their presence on the site.

It’s been argued that Google is getting so many submissions that a few videos may slip through, but that’s clearly not the case. In less than five minutes I was able to find numerous clips listed as "popular" that clearly violate Google’s own video program policies. And we’re not just talking some softcore porn clips or kids doing Jackass-style stunts, which would be bad enough. Many of these clips are hardcore illegal acts.

In many cases, even worse than the videos themselves are their audio tracks and the audio from the linked sites—racial slurs, songs with lyrics about beating women, and the audio tracks from pornographic movies. (StreamingMedia.com’s own standards prevent us from publishing links to any of these pages, but a quick search on the Google Video site reveals plenty. For instance, a search for any four-letter word yields hundreds of clips.)

Where is Google’s review process in all of this? A few months ago, StreamingMedia.com joined the Google Video Beta program and started uploading video clips from some of our past Streaming Media East and West conferences. We were told how each video would be screened by a Google employee to make sure it meets the site’s guidelines. Given what’s available on the site, this is apparently not happening. It would be extremely easy for Google to create a filter just on the titles of the videos that people are uploading, but the company is clearly not doing even that. Google, the undisputed king of keyword-based content search, can’t even put a keyword filter on one of their own sites?

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