Viacom to Google: Your money or your money (and pi day)

Sit back, relax, have some pie, while IT Blogwatch rewinds the video suit. Not to mention March 14, 1:59 pm ...

Todd R. Weiss filed the update:

Media company Viacom International Inc. is suing online video provider YouTube Inc. and its parent company, Google Inc., for more than $1 billion, saying the companies are infringing on Viacom's copyrights because almost 160,000 unauthorized video clips are available for viewing on YouTube.

Frank Watson is not at all surprised:

It had to happen sooner or later. Someone is suing Google via YouTube for $1 billion for massive copyright infringement.

How massive? Liz Gannes sharpens her pencil:

According to U.S. copyright law, when a copyright owner's claim of willful infringement is upheld, the court can award damages of up to $150,000. That would be for every instance of infringement, which could possibly mean every clip.

Take a trip to the calculators, noting that Viacom today pegged the number of infringing clips at 160,000. At up to $150,000 a pop, that's potential total damages of $24 billion. Seriously. $24 billion.

Om Malik looks to the traffic report:

According to Hitwise, a web traffic analysis company, Viacom sites had 0.12% and 0.16% of weekly market share of total US visits in January and February 2007. In comparison, YouTube had 0.44% and 0.66% of the total visits.


I have argued in response to that comment that Viacom Inc. could have done something about this a long time ago, but didn’t and basically are using this lawsuit to paper over their own incompetence.


Here is proof: Viacom's MTV vs YouTube traffic and visitor comparisons. See for yourself, who really missed the boat here! (Data Source: Compete.com) So why sue now? My guess is that they have been reading Google's SEC filings and trying to figure out how to get some of those billions sitting in the bank!

Was GMSV watching South Park or West Side Story?

Oh, it's on now. No more requesting (see "Oh, my God! They deleted Kenny!"). No more demanding (see "Oh my God, they killed Kenny! You bastards!"). Now it's a knife fight. Tuesday morning, entertainment conglomerate Viacom sued YouTube and its parent, Google, for "massive intentional copyright infringement" involving more than 160,000 video clips from properties like MTV and Comedy Central. In compensation, Viacom wants more than $1 billion.

Gizmodo sees extortion:

Viacom is getting pissed off at YouTube, and has decided to shakedown its parent company Google Inc. for $1 billion in damages for stealing its programming. Viacom says there are more than 160,000 clips of its programming on YouTube, including segments from VH1, Nickelodeon and especially Comedy Central.

umair has the Lolz of the Day:

What was it I said yesterday about Viacom needing radical change in it's very DNA?

What a surprise, then, today, that they decide to sue YouTube and Google.

Nice one guys - it's like putting off going to the gym...by ducking into Krispy Kreme.

Pete Cashmore is highly critical:

YouTube, frankly, has moved the video market forward faster than any other player, and that high risk game is ultimately good for users. If it had been left to Viacom and its ilk to move forward with Internet TV, we’d still be watching everything in Windows Media or Realplayer format, with no progress made over the past two years. ... Fearing loss of control, particularly of the distribution channel, suing seemed like the best option for a company that’s anti-innovation. That said, YouTube was also so incredibly slow to roll out its copy protection, and only delivered a deal with AudibleMagic when we expected an in-house solution, that it gave these lawsuits the opportunity to bubble up.

Shel can see the future:

This will be a law suit, if you ask me, that pits the way the law is, which would favor Viacom against the way the law should be, which favors Google. This is a lawsuit that is destined to go to the Supreme Court.


Do you have the right to remix and share your digital properties with others, via YouTube is the first big question. Does Google have the right to profit from it through advertising is the second.

The former question, in similar, form was presented to the Supreme Court back in the Napster days where the concept of sharing took a healthy bashing. Both the courts and the arguments will be changed this time.


The decision will impact the rights of intellectual and physical property and of free speech. It will be a case the impacts us all in ways large and small.

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Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... the church of pi.

Computerworld's online projects editor, Joyce Carpenter, compiled IT Blogwatch today. Regular Blogwatcher Richi Jennings will return later in the week.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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