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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 Aikouka on 3/14/2007 9:44:34 AM , Rating: 2
From what I see, Viacom's argument for requesting $1 Billion is because of loss of advertising revenue, not the act of having anything relating to their IP on Youtube.

I actually agree, I think Viacom's remarks are a bit overzealous and it almost reminds me of a piracy debate we've been having on the Anandtech forums. Sure, you can say, "Well, 200,000 users pirated my software," but the problem comes when you say, "Well, that means 200,000 users would've bought my software." I think just about any of us can come up with a decent reason why that isn't necessarily true.

I believe this also to be the same for Viacom's iFilm vs Youtube remark. Personally, I haven't visited iFilm since I stopped watching Angry Kid videos (or that's what I remember as the last time). Essentially, youtube has probably reached a status that google has in the search business. Instead of saying "go search the web" when referring to a video, people may say "go look it up on youtube" or even "go youtube it" (akin to saying "go google it"). In short, Youtube's mass appeal and overall market penetration is much higher than iFilm's appeal and penetration and I believe simply going for a 1:1 ratio of gain to loss is a gross overstatement.

Also, not to mention, saying something like, "Well, if they didn't go here, they would've gone there" is what's called a counter factual. The statement logically cannot be proven, because there's simply no facts that back it up. It's like saying "If Hitler wasn't alive, World War II never would've started." There's absolutely no way to prove that remark, although you're welcome to theorize.

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