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One of cable's largest media conglomorates has opened the litigation against YouTube

Viacom today announced it has filed a lawsuit against Google in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Viacom filed the lawsuit claiming that Google intentionally committed massive copyright infringement of Viacom’s entertainment properties. The lawsuit seeks more than $1 billion in damages, in addition to an injunction that will prohibit Google/YouTube from further copyright infringement.

In its statement, Viacom said that “almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s programming have been available on YouTube and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.” Viacom would have greatly preferred these page views to have come from its own online video sharing website iFilm, so that it would have been able to receive advertising revenue.

Viacom also said Google, which acquired YouTube in 2006, 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.” Essentially,  fans of content not owned by Google are watching the “creative works” on YouTube while Google benefits from and exploits these users’ devotions to these T.V. shows.

Viacom went on to say that YouTube’s entire business model is “based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content.” Viacom’s statement even says that Google is avoiding taking “proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site.”  YouTube missed the anti-piracy deadline that it promised to deliver by January 2007.

Viacom is also unhappy that it has to police YouTube’s content and says that YouTube has placed “the entire burden – and high cost – of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement.”

Viacom believes that “YouTube and Google are continuing to take the fruit” of its efforts without permission while also “destroying enormous value in the process.” Viacom also added a little sentiment by saying the value “rightfully belongs to the writers, directors and talent who create it and companies like Viacom that have invested to make possible this innovation and creativity.” Despite the added emotion, however, there is no doubt that the lawsuit centers on money.    

After unproductive negotiation Viacom believes that its only choice is to “turn to the courts to prevent Google and YouTube from continuing to steal” its content and to gain compensation for damages.

Prior to 2006, Viacom owned CBS broadcasting networks.  CBS Corporation has also scrutinized YouTube; the company recently declined a content sharing program that was slated for 2007.  Viacom, on the other hand, has chosen to partner with Joost for its online content sharing platform.

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RE: Two things...
By rika13 on 3/13/2007 4:12:40 PM , Rating: 1
actually, the law is on Google's side;

DMCA gives them protection as an "online service provider" and MGM vs Grokster protects them since they are not affirming themselves as a service for piracy, they promised the organized criminals (aka the RIAA and MPAA) a filter, however such a promise being broken means nothing as it is not a CONTRACT, thus the forward looking statements laws apply

RE: Two things...
By NuroMancer on 3/13/2007 4:25:43 PM , Rating: 2
The anti-piracy system to be in place by the end of 2006 was a part of a deal which allowed Google to distribute Warner music videos, artist interviews and other music-related content.

So, while Viacom may noe have as much of a case, perhaps Warner does.

I agree MGM vs Grokster does tend to make me think Viacom will get no-where in this lawsuit. The Supreme court found that a distributor cannot be held liable for users' infringement so long as the tool is capable of substantial noninfringing uses

RE: Two things...
By Ard on 3/13/2007 4:38:18 PM , Rating: 2
The rationale you're stating is an offshoot of the staple article doctrine of patent law, articulated in copyright law by the Supreme Court in Sony v. Universal (also known as the Betamax case). It was merely upheld in MGM v. Grokster. What the Grokster decision held was that a 3rd party can be contributorily liable for the actions of its users if it can be shown that they actively induced that infringement. The Court looked to Grokster's business models, advertising materials, and other documents in reaching that ruling.

Can Grokster help Google? It's possible. YouTube is clearly one of those products that has a substantial amount of non-infringing uses. It's more likely, however, that Grokster will hurt Google depending on YouTube's internal policies regarding copyright infringement. It's clear that, publicly, they've shown that they fully intend to respect others' IP rights; however, everyone knows that YouTube is also a magnet for copyright infringement and it's highly unlikely that Google doesn't know that. If their business model doesn't mirror their public sentiments, they could have a problem.

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