Youku steps up piracy battle

China's most popular online video site,, is trying to shed its reputation for abetting piracy by taking a page from YouTube's playbook: using technology to 'fingerprint' videos, making it easier to find unlicensed copies.

The Beijing-based company, which has been sued over pirated videos, has developed a content-filtering system that generates identifying codes based on characteristics like colour combinations and brightness. The company is using the system to help step up its removal of unlicensed content and says the technology will allow copyright owners to search Youku's database for unlicensed copies.

Youku is hoping the new fingerprint system will help it improve its reputation among advertisers who don't want to be associated with piracy.