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Viacom Strikes Google, YouTube with Lawsuit
March 13, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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Just about everyone who's been following the Viacom/Google-YouTube drama is aware of just how close a deal was to being cut. Earlier this year, the anticipation was that Viacom would soon begin distributing its work on Google's YouTube. Viacom is the parent of many popular TV networks, such as MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, and Spike TV. It doesn't take a stroke of genius to casually troll YouTube and find various programming from these networks.

However there are far fewer instances of what Viacom calls infringing material lately, as YouTube responded to an October demand to remove various Comedy Central clips. The heat was turned up in February, when Viacom once again demanded that YouTube remove over 100,000 video clips.

These demands recurred throughout the Viacom/YouTube negotiation process. Seemingly frustrated at YouTube's progress, Viacom stunningly backed out of any possible distribution deal and instead opted to sign on with the lesser known "Joost".

"After months of ongoing discussions with YouTube and Google, it has become clear that YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement that would make Viacom content available to YouTube users," Viacom said in a statement. "Filtering tools promised repeatedly by YouTube and Google have not been put in place, and they continue to host and stream vast amounts of unauthorized video."

Although loosing the Viacom deal was a serious blow to YouTube, not very many people expected this latest move. In an announcement made today, Viacom has sued both Google and YouTube in Federal Court in the southern district of New York.

“YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others’ creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google. Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws. In fact, YouTube’s strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site, thus generating significant traffic and revenues for itself while shifting the entire burden – and high cost – of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement."

Viacom's statement almost sounds like a lawsuit doctrine against any of the multitude of P2P networks sued out of existence. However Google/YouTube, unlike most P2P companies, is a multi-billion dollar enterprise capable of defending itself in court. While Google/YouTube may be able to defend itself, Viacom's latest move may only fuel an already established doubt regarding the viability of legitimate online video distribution. Regardless, Google appears less than impressed with Viacom's lawsuit, and issued the following statement:

"We have not received the lawsuit but are confident that YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders and believe the courts will agree. YouTube is great for users and offers real opportunities to rights holders: the opportunity to interact with users; to promote their content to a young and growing audience; and to tap into the online advertising market. We will certainly not let this suit become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube and its ability to attract more users, more traffic and build a stronger community."

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Legal/Courtroom :: Other Lawsuits

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