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Summary:

Viacom sued YouTube and Google today, seeking an injunction against the video site’s display of copyrighted materials and more than $1 billion in damages for 160,000 copies of its content on the site seen 1.5 billion times. In a press release accompanying the lawsuit (download full […]

Viacom sued YouTube and Google today, seeking an injunction against the video site’s display of copyrighted materials and more than $1 billion in damages for 160,000 copies of its content on the site seen 1.5 billion times.

In a press release accompanying the lawsuit (download full lawsuit here), Viacom said,

“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 had previously demanded Google pull more than 100,000 clips from YouTube seen 1.2 billion times, an order YouTube had complied with, though the accusations appear to have risen in size since then. Viacom has also announced it will be sending its content to emerging YouTube alternative Joost.

YouTube has yet to formally roll out any copyright filtering technology, something the site promised it would do before the end of last year.

Just last week, video site Bolt settled a similar lawsuit for approximately $10 million with Universal Music Group, something it had to sell itself to GoFish in order to manage.

Update: Reuters has a report out as well

Update 2: Google’s response, as quoted on various sites:

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.

  1. GigaOM » Viacom sues YouTube for $1 billion Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    [...] has sued YouTube-Google and is seeking $1 billion in damages for copyright infringement. More details on NewTeeVee Share/E-mail | Sphere | Print | Topic: The Daily | Tags: [...]

  2. yikers!

  3. of course, they sued them. young companies innovate, grand old companies litigate.

  4. How exactly is it innovation to give paid content away for free with no ads. Kazaa (and torrents blah blah) do it well. Youtube simply had the pockets to scale the network to handle the incoming traffic.

    That almost directly contradicts your other article.
    http://gigaom.com/2007/03/13/free-a-tactic-not-a-business-model/

    It is pretty clear now youtube has very little watchable user generated content, and quite a bit of content from media companies.

  5. Actually, MTV/Viacom could have done the same thing – profited from this whole movement and instead they sat on their asses and now are litgating.

    Look they could have made money from this, been more proactive about this and instead of fighting YouTube, they could have gotten a piece of the pie.

    Viacom has all the assets and they can monetize them whenever they want – free but ad supported. they could have but they didn’t.

    this is nothing to do with “free” article. why because it is simple – the youtube folks put up ads and got paid for their part of the business.

    i agree, content infringement is not a good thing and it should be stopped. why sue them now – like almost a year after the two companies started negotiating? why now? Google dollars!

  6. Whether or not content infringement is good — the decision of the case will have to set a precedent for all the other small and large companies dying to get a small slice of youtube dollars for users posting their copyrighted content. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. It could open the floodgates?

  7. Sameer Mithal Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    There is a larger issue at play here — which is that content owners want to monetize their assets themselves as opposed to having other people take a cut of the pie.

    The days of companies making money without paying for it are gone – basically YouTube got $1.65B without paying the folks who made them successful.

    In my opinion, this will change going forward.

  8. NewTeeVee » Are You Kidding? A Billion Dollars? Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    [...] Viacom sued YouTube in U.S. District Court today for more than $1 billion in damages. [...]

  9. I was just talking to my non-techie friend last night, trying to explain the sheer number and variety of video sharing sites, and it hit me — what’s the value of YouTube beyond all the copyright infringing content on the site?

    It’s not a particularly innovative site in terms of social features, the content that people post to the site isn’t as good as what you can find on Blip or Revver, there are few if any ways to make money on your own content at YouTube, and the quality of the actual video…don’t get me started.

    YouTube offered a great search engine for old and new clips from television, film and the like. Take away all that content, and you’ve got yourself ‘yet another video sharing site.’

    I’m not saying Viacom is right in bringing suit (in fact, doesn’t the DMCA explicitly protect YouTube from this very litigation?) — but seriously, I’m not really sure what Google was thinking when they bought it.

  10. Brian Andrews Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    I have no problem with this suit. If you remember back to the months before Google purchased YouTube, most analysts and bloggers were expecting YouTube to be out of business in a number of weeks due to either ligitation or bandwidth costs.

    I agree with the points on the content. Once you get past the copyrighted material there just is not much there.

    Content producers need to be protected. Say all you want about Viacom being a slow, tired old media company. Some of that is true but some of that is that these guys play by the rules (for the most part) and were trying to figure out ways to make sure everyone gets paid. Not out of the goodness of their hearts, but also to insure that they got paid.

    http://www.hungryflix.com is trying to build a community of great content, that is accessible and compelling. Content providers are our bread and butter and we will ensure that they are taken care of.

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