Media ratings firm Nielsen and digital rights management company Digimark today announced its plans to launch a service that allows content owners to track copyrighted video content across the web and apply rules on how it can be used and distributed. The service, known as Digital Media Manager, is expected to be available in mid-2008.

Nielsen hopes to market its digital watermarking and fingerprinting technology to Internet sites that rely on user-generated content and want to filter illicit material. This could include everything from video-sharing sites like YouTube to social networks such as MySpace. Although initially the service will be available for video clips, Nielsen plans to expand the content protection to DVDs, CDs, and downloadable content.

Although there are several companies offering similar technologies, Nielsen believes it has a particular advantage over its competitors: While other companies need to convince copyright owners to submit content with anticipation to implement their tracking, Nielsen already has access to a wealth of television content before it airs, thanks to its television ratings service.