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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Google quizzed over YouTube plans
File-sharing website YouTube has grown rapidly in the past year
Google has vowed to take a tough line on copyright when it completes its $1.65bn (875m) takeover of YouTube.

The video-sharing website's rapid growth has been partly down to the thousands of clips from old TV shows uploaded illegally by its users.

But Google Europe vice-president Nikesh Arora told MPs his company would not tolerate copyright violations.

YouTube is thought to have escaped prosecution so far because it is a new business with little cash, MPs heard.

Its policy is to take down copyrighted material when it is alerted by the owners, but it has been criticised for not being vigilant enough.

It has also developed technology that will allow it to block copyrighted videos.

'Pot of money'

Nevertheless, some pundits are predicting Google, which is one of the world's highest valued companies, will be hit by a string of legal challenges as soon as the YouTube takeover goes through.

Andrew Mclaughlin, Google's head of global public policy, was asked about the YouTube takeover by MPs during a session before the Commons culture committee.

He pointed out that if material infringed copyright on the existing Google Video service, "we take it down".

But he added: "I just can't say anything about YouTube since it's not our company."

The committee chairman John Whittingdale asked Mr Arora if Google had "put aside a very large pot of money to settle copyright infringement" when it took over YouTube.

Mr Arora replied: "There is not a lot we can say about what we will do with YouTube because it is still in the process of due diligence and we haven't closed the acquisition."

But he added: "We intend to uphold copyright. We believe it is very important as part the creative process.

"It's evident from our policy as part of Google Video, Google News or Google Books, and any acquisition in the future is not going to change Google's view on copyright."

Content deals

YouTube has signed content deals with entertainment giants CBS, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, NBC and Warner Music Group.

The companies will allow YouTube to distribute approved copyrighted material in exchange for a share of advertising revenue.

Copyright owners can then judge whether to allow the video to remain on the site, and take a share of the advertising or block it.

YouTube already limits clips to 10 minutes to keep users from uploading whole television episodes and films - but some users get round this by uploading them in instalments, the committee heard.

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