Viacom Sues Google for $1 Billion
March 13, 2007 2:27 PM
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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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3/14/2007 9:22:32 AM
I don't really see how Viacom has a leg to stand concerning the charges they made. They obviously knew about YouTube long before Google bought it and yet they did nothing. Had they gone after YouTube as soon as they knew their content was on the site and YouTube did nothing about it then they would be justified in filing the lawsuit.
Instead, Viacom (and the others) did nothing until Google bought YouTube despite knowing their content was on the site. Of course, everyone knows this was only because they would not be able to get a dime out of YouTube but they can get a bundle from Google. That would indicate that YouTube is not damaging Viacom in any way. If Viacom was being hurt, then YouTube would have been immediately informed of the material by Viacom and told to remove it as soon as it was discovered.
To purposefully ignore infringement and later claim it was harmful only after many more infringements occurred should not be allowed. If Viacom wants to sue for damages, it should only be limited to infringements that occurred before they became aware of the infringement and only after demanding YouTube remove the infringing material and YouTube refuses to remove it. Infringing material posted after Viacom first learned of YouTube and ignored by Viacom until a later time in order to build up views on such content, neither Google nor YouTube should be liable for damages for unless they refused to take the content down.
The only reason a company would knowingly allow their content to be infringed in that way would be to sue for a larger amount at a later date. Because of that, it is easy to infer that the infringement of the content was not damaging to the company in any way and thus the company forfeits any right to sue for damages.
I'm not saying it's right for anyone to post infringing content to YouTube or any other similar site so do not try to twist my views here to fit that mold.
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