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March 13, 2007

Viacom Sues YouTube for 1 Billion Dollars

Reuters reports that Viacom sued the Google-owned YouTube for "more than $1 billion over unauthorized use of its programming online". Viacom says that YouTube hosted more than 150,000 videos from its programs and these videos were watched 1.5 billion times.

Viacom doesn't think that YouTube videos increased the awareness of its shows. "YouTube's strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site. Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws," stated a Viacom representative.

YouTube removed 100,000 videos last month, at Viacom's request. But Viacom wants financial compensations and a content filtering programs that prevents future copyright infringements.

Google paid $1.65 billion in stock for YouTube in October 2006, to have a good platform for its video ads. Unfortunately, Google failed to make deals with significant content owners, so many videos hosted by YouTube have a fuzzy legal status.

Kartik Hosanagar, professor of operations and information management, gives an interesting reason for the failure of the negotiations. "If Google is the one controlling all the matching of ads and consumers, [traditional media companies will be] really worried about Google's market power. That worry is reflected in Viacom's deal with Joost."

An YouTube fan explains the whole thing in an animation that imitates Stephen Colbert's show on Comedy Central.

Update: Google responds to Viacom, by saying that "YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders. We will certainly not let this suit become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube and its ability to attract more users, more traffic and build a stronger community."


  1. Viacom never said YouTube distribution didn't increase awareness about their shows. And it didn't just increase awareness, it let people watch entire episodes without Viacom getting paid.

    Personally, I'm excited about being able to watch television over the internet. And I think YouTube's rampant piracy has made content owners afraid to embrace the web. They don't want to lose control of their content -- and rightfully so. It's all they've got.

    Once these issues are settled, we'll be ready for true over the top, cable-bypass television.

    And, creators will actually get paid for it.

  2. I thought sites like YouTube couldn't be liable for what is put up, just as long as they were willing to take the stuff down when a request was given. Did Google refuse Viacom's request? Either way, a billion dollars is a little steep of a price.

  3. From YouTube TOS:

    "You shall be solely responsible for your own User Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them. (...)

    YouTube does not endorse any User Submission or any opinion, recommendation, or advice expressed therein, and YouTube expressly disclaims any and all liability in connection with User Submissions. YouTube does not permit copyright infringing activities and infringement of intellectual property rights on its Website, and YouTube will remove all Content and User Submissions if properly notified that such Content or User Submission infringes on another's intellectual property rights."

  4. YouTube help:

    "What are you doing to prevent unauthorized copyrighted content from appearing in YouTube?

    Since all content on YouTube is posted by our users, we make it clear in our terms of use and at the time of upload that they must own the copyright to the videos they post or have permission from the copyright holder. We encourage copyright holders to report any specific infringing videos via the DMCA takedown process. User accounts of repeat infringers are automatically terminated."

  5. How are videos different than mp3s? The RIAA could "pressure" web sites into removing copyrighted content, but ended up going against those who where actually "sharing" the mp3s. Why go after YouTube and not the people pirating the copyrighted content?

    Lazy Lawyers. That's why!

  6. I like this comment from Slashdot, that says Viacom is afraid.

    "Sites like YouTube are a huge threat to the Big Media cartel regardless of whether they traffic in copyrighted material. A major barrier to entry in that industry is access to distribution channels: theaters, television and radio airtime, etc. It's like supermarket shelf space. That's why indy musicians and film producers have had such a hard time winning eyeballs regardless of the quality of their stuff. YouTube and sites like it bypass the gatekeepers and short-circuit the whole system; now just about anyone can reach the mass public if their creations catch a wave. Just as in the music industry, that scares the bejesus out of companies like Viacom because it strikes at the core of their business model."

  7. The complaint has 27 pages --> PDF.

  8. uggh nobody really cares about the content. Viacomm is a Dying Company that needs to survive by sueing a larger company for something that is a popular legal scandal. Its strange that They wait for Google to purchase You Tube to sue. Viacomm is nothing nothing but leeches and parasites


    YOUTUBE NOW IS FREEDON IN THE FUTURE I DON'T KNOW This is a treath tha can show the real world to many people.

    Now Google is taking over the media and looks like he is going to be the next monopoly leader.
    It is scary thinking about it!

    THEY HAVE SPY SATELLITE; they know where you go over the internet, pretty freaky and so much more technology. The goverment is probably behind this monster.

    Anyway I think I'm loosing the point but the point is VIACOM Should be more considered I think that is abused of the laws and system.

  10. I came across this video on youtube called how much is your favourite video site worth??... its crazy if you look at their prices, its insane.

  11. Aren't monopolies illegal? Someone needs to sue the crap out of viacom.

  12. The prices of dvd's and other media sources are a reflection of the monopolistic power of companies such as viacom. Someone needs to stop them. Now.

  13. Isn't this just a case of Viacom having sour grapes for not being able to keep up with new technologies and innovations and how they're employed in new media?

  14. i remember when the 2nd iraqi war was over, there was talk of invading syria next.Flipping through the channels, i happen to stop on a military spokesman, and they were giddy with victory around this time. I admit i stopped cause he was attractive, and a reporter asked him if there were plans to invade syria next. The man said, and this is a actual quote, "we dont need to invade syria, we'll let americanism invade syria". That is what he said, i didnt quite understand at the time what "Americanism" is, but i assumed it had something to do with consumerism. 2 months later on several news services it was reported about the big "hip-hop" craze in Syria, and it's attendant craze for all things Western, namely products....My point is, IF there exist a entertainment media/military complex, and they can do that to another country, what makes you think they wouldnt do it to their own? What makes you think they respect the idea of countries at all anymore? Do you ever wonder why basically overnight CMT, the last of the music channels to actually have music, began offering us the "dukes of hazzard" 3 times a day, even though it was already on "TV LAND"? As soon as it could churn out a reality tv show it did, then it was all over......They weren't offering us "the dukes of hazzard" again, they were buying time to eliminate that channels music, to make a younger more market-responsive generation of sheep....Which is exactly what kids are today...No threat. No ideas. No dreams. Control, you think people dont think like that? there are other examples, like the history's sole purpose is to scare people, people who are scared go to what they know; thus stalling change, thus creating a "boogey-man" or a "oceania" or "eurasia" or a "goldstein"....all from Orwell's 1984.....Big Brother is indeed watching, and we are the dead.

  15. you tube, upon merging with Google, has become a corporate puppet, n now they have an obligation to do what ever they are told. youtube is no longer about YOU, or about your pet cat dancing to Britney spears, its about MONEY. Youtube used to be about people and expression, but as always, someone had to find a way to fuck up a good thing. Fucking Communist Nazi conformists. Dont let them win, youtube belongs to the people!! HQ.

  16. this is so fucking stupid. whatever happened to the good old days when we could watch that guy screaming "LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!!"? not happening anymore, because that would infringe upon copyright laws towards britney spears, just like everything else now. i make lyrics and top 10 videos, but every time i upload one, i get an email from youtube saying that i don't have copyright permission from sony music company, oh, but i don't have to do anything right now because it's just matching third party content. my ass. youtube, heres a piece of advice- buy yourself back from google, and get off your ass and tell viacom to suck your hairy dick!

  17. VIACOM WANTS2SUE me cuz of a 5 minute interview with a ufo author from the colbtre report.if i declare fair use and i lose i pay for their loss.How would that be calculated.only 200 people have watched my clip in 2months.hmm 200X.000000004cents X 200thousand for the lawyers......ohh i get it..nevermind.this clip backs up my TRUE stories of encounters with UFO's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!