From the moment people had the ability to upload video content to the Web, they took the liberty of posting anything and everything they could find - whether they owned the rights to the content or not. Unfortunately, this caused the people who did own the rights to the content a great deal of heartache, as that free distribution channel cut into their profits. So they fought back with lawyers, take-down notices, and other legal threats. Where did it get them? Not terribly far.

But now, a new partnership between MySpace and MTV Networks might have those content owners changing their tune - and actually encouraging people to upload all the content they want.

What could cause such a drastic change in MTV's attitude? Auditude, a technology that allows MTV to identify even small clips of their content using audio and video fingerprinting.

With Auditude, MTV Networks will be able to identify practically any of their content on MySpace - so long as Auditude has a record of it - without relying on user-generated keywords or tags. Once identified, the MySpace-hosted MTV content becomes an advertising platform for MTV. Auditude allows them to add a video overlay to the clip, advertising the content source, the original broadcast date, and links to purchase the entire episode or other related content.

Using Auditude's library, MTV Networks will have the opportunity to identify more than 250 million videos and 4 years worth of 100 channels of television on MySpace. And that's content that is highly likely to be embedded by MySpace users - music videos, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report, among others.

While the concept of fingerprinting isn't new, this application is. In the past, content owners have used identification methods as a means of identifying unauthorized content for the sake of calling out the attack dogs and sending take-down notices.

The Auditude solution takes exactly the opposite tact: identifying content as a means to extend MTV Networks' reach with the MySpace audience. It's an incredibly innovative way to embrace the behavior of today's Web users while giving something back to the content owners.

It seems like the perfect ending - a win-win situation - to a bubble-gum pop MTV video. But is that the end of the story?

Analytics Anyone?

There's something else about the Auditude technology that makes this partnership all the more interesting.

With the ability to add a custom overlay to each clip uploaded to MySpace, MTV Networks gains something even more important than advertising and follow-on sales. What's that? Detailed viewing metrics and click-through data on a population that has - to date - been a complete mystery.

With Auditude ads - and the analytics to monitor them - MTV Networks can build a mini-Nielsen-esque view into how their content is being used on MySpace. They'll be able to see any number of interesting metrics and trends. Who is uploading content? Which shows get posted most? Which shows get watched most? What are the demographics of the people posting the shows? Which users are getting the most click-throughs?

The list could go on and on.

That data is valuable enough, by itself. But MTV Networks also gains the ability to compare those MySpace findings with the information they have about television viewers and people who access MTV Networks' content through authorized distribution channels.

For an industry that lives and dies by audience analysis, this new windfall of data - from a previously untapped resource - is a veritable metrics gold mine, certain to provide reams of reports and analysis in the short term. In the long term, it could change how - and where - MTV Networks' programming is released and distributed.

All from a little ad and the means to track and analyze it. That old Duran Duran video may have just gotten more valuable than ever.