A technology designed to detect copyright material could give YouTube a needed dose of legal legitimacy and calm any concerns Google has about spending $1.65 billion on the Internet video site. But that same technology could hurt YouTube's edgy appeal.

While YouTube is known as the place to find almost any kind of video clip, recent agreements with high-profile content creators require YouTube to deploy an audio-signature technology that can spot a low-quality copy of a licensed music video or other content. YouTube would have to substitute an approved version of the clip or take the material down automatically.

Analysts said that stepped-up monitoring by entertainment companies raises the likelihood that YouTube fans won't find what they're used to getting — and will go searching for the next online video rebel.

"There's very little that holds YouTube's audience to YouTube except the belief that whatever they want to see, there is a very good chance YouTube will have it," said Joe Laszlo, senior analyst with Jupiter Research.

"If the video migrates to other places, I fear the audience will too, so YouTube needs to be really careful about how it does this," he said.

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