Google’s Viacom Suit Legal Fees: $100 Million

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On today’s investor relations call, Google CFO Patrick Pichette said that Google’s years-long legal battle with Viacom cost a total of $100 million in legal fees. And the case never even went to trial, instead getting thrown out by the judge last month.

Pichette said that Google was pleased by the copyright case’s dismissal, but that’s still a hefty chunk of change. And while that’s the kind of legal bill a tech giant like Google can handle, smaller companies haven’t been as lucky.

The bankruptcy of Veoh, for example, was blamed by founder Dmitry Shapiro on its lawsuit with Universal Music Group. As Shapiro told All Things D’s Peter Kafta last February:

“Clearly the UMG lawsuit was a tremendous weight on the company. It was both financially draining and distracting, and it choked off the ability for any significant strategic deals, because everybody we talked to was terrified of getting sued immediately,” he said. “And we know that potential investors were thinking that, too.”

Kafka reported that the UMG lawsuit only cost the company “something in the $6 million to $8 million range in legal fees,” and as Ryan Lawler wrote at the time, problems with the company’s management and strategy were major contributing factors towards the company’s failure.

But to bring it full circle: Veoh winning the UMG lawsuit was a major factor in the District Court throwing out Viacom’s copyright dispute with YouTube.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Why Viacom’s Fight With YouTube Threatens Web Innovation (subscription required)

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