Blog Post

Viacom-YouTube: Execs Duel In The Press; Cuban Calls For Action

Viacom knew exactly what it was doing with a showy demand that YouTube take down tens of thousands of clips — even though it apparently didn’t really know for sure that each of those clips infringed on a Viacom copyright. This isn’t the broadband landscape of a year ago when few networks took full advantage of the ability to make broadcast material available on demand online. Viacom is one of the leading purveyors of broadband video and shutting down access on YouTube (even it were actually possible to do so for more than a nanosecond) doesn’t remove its content from view. It’s also clear that, despite some posturing to the contrary, what Viacom wants is a deal with YouTube and Google — not to say “neener, neener, it’s ours and you can’t have it” — although what it would take to close a deal is not as clear. It’s a little hollow this time around when Google and YouTube talk about depriving the users given that this is no longer just a cool way for the peeps to share video — it’s a real, live business trying to make money off those uploaded clips. Meanwhile, lots of effort on boths sides to make their case in the press:
WSJ (sub. req.): Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman: “We have been quite indulgent to this point. … We cannot continue to allow YouTube or Google to continue to profit from our content without a reasonable commercial agreement.” Privately, says the Journal, Viacom execs say there’s no marketing advantage or novelty any more, suggesting they don’t need a deal. Meanwhile, Google’s David Eun disputes that Google is making any money off the Viacom clips but says they’d like a licensing deal: “”They are more focused on the money they can make in the short term. We’re still more focused on innovation than the short-term economics.” Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt earlier told the Journal the company “would eventually do some significant deals” but isn’t in a hurry.
NYT: YouTube CEO Chad Hurley said the company is still working on its filtering technology; Viacom contends the filters are good enough to keep out material YouTube doesn’t want. Viacom spokesman Carl Folta also took issue with the idea that YouTube would only make filtering available to companies who make deals a la Warner Music. Dauman told the NYT that despite reports of $100 million offers or Viacom yanking deals that they “never had any kind of an agreement with Google that it could say yes to,