YouTube was poised on Saturday to ring in the new year on a sour note by missing a deadline to deploy a system to prevent piracy of copyrighted music on the video-sharing Web site.
Creating and installing an "advanced content identification and royalty reporting system" was at the heart of a precedent-setting agreement between YouTube and Warner Music Group in September.
Google bought YouTube a month later in a US$1.65 billion stock deal and company leaders proclaimed they would tap into the Internet search powerhouse's resources to grow and address technical challenges.
Warner agreed to let YouTube distribute its library of music videos, artist interviews and other content and allow people to incorporate the music from its catalogue into works they create and post on the Web site.
YouTube vowed to have a new piracy-prevention system in place by the end of last year as a caveat of the "first-of-its-kind" alliance to sell Warner music and share the revenues.
The system was not in place on Saturday and YouTube's offices were closed until after New Year's Day.
A contract posted for electronic signing on the Web site advised those interested in uploading their creations to YouTube that it "shall be at your sole risk."
Missing the self-imposed deadline would be a big stumble for YouTube, but it could recover its footing by getting the system in place within a week or two, according to industry analyst Michael McGuire of Gartner Research.