Viacom Sues YouTube for $1 Billion13 Mar, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange
Viacom Inc. announced that it has sued YouTube and Google in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for intentional copyright infringement of Viacom's entertainment properties.
The suit seeks more than $1 billion in damages, as well as an injunction prohibiting Google and YouTube from further copyright infringement.
The complaint alleges that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom's programminghave been available on YouTube and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.
"YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that 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, Google,” a Viacom statement said. “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. In fact, YouTube's strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site, thus generating significant traffic and revenue for itself while shifting the entire burden — and high cost — of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement.
“This behavior stands in stark contrast to the actions of other significant distributors, who have recognized the fair value of entertainment content and have concluded agreements to make content legally available to their customers around the world.”
“There is no question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take the fruit of our efforts without permission and destroying enormous value in the process. This is value that 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.
“After a great deal of unproductive negotiation, and remedial efforts by ourselves and other copyright holders, YouTube continues in its unlawful business model. Therefore, we must turn to the courts to prevent Google and YouTube from continuing to steal value from artists and to obtain compensation for the significant damage they have caused."
The court will agree "YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders," Google said in a statement published by the Associated Press."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."
This isn't the first time YouTube has come under scrutiny regarding third-party uploaded content.
In addition to Viacom, 20th Century Fox Entertainment has pursued inquiries with Google regarding copyrighted content, including “24” and “The Simpsons.”
Last month, YouTube reportedly removed more than 100,000 video clips of Viacom-related material, which included MTV Networks shows and Paramount Pictures films.
More recently, Magnolia Pictures, the independent studio owned by Mark Cuban, filed a subpoena against Google regarding alleged uploads on YouTube of excerpts from the film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. The subpoena, filed March 6 in U.S. District Court in Northern Texas, requested Google release information on the identity of the YouTube users who uploaded the clips and other material without authorization.
Google acquired social video network YouTube last year for $1.65 billion.