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Viacom’s $1B YouTube Smackdown

Posted on Mar 13, 2007

YouTube, you’re on notice!  Viacom put a damper on the Google-YouTube honeymoon by slapping the online video giant with a $1-billion lawsuit Tuesday.  The suit follows YouTube’s previous tussles with Viacom, the parent company of the MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central networks, over unauthorized Web use of clips from shows such as “The Colbert Report” and “South Park.”

AP via

MTV owner Viacom Inc. sued the popular video-sharing site YouTube and its corporate parent, Google Inc., on Tuesday, seeking more than $1 billion in damages on claims of widespread copyright infringement.

Viacom claims that YouTube has displayed nearly 160,000 unauthorized video clips from its cable networks, which also include Comedy Central, VH1 and Nickelodeon.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, marks a sharp escalation of long-simmering tensions between Viacom and YouTube and represents the biggest confrontation to date between a major media company and the hugely popular video-sharing site, which Google bought in November for $1.76 billion.

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By Deborah, March 17, 2007 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment
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The internet obviously can’t stay a haven for illegal activity forever.  There will have to be some law-and-order brought to it, for business to thrive there.

Problem is the law hasn’t caught up with technology. I’m sorry, but just telling people “don’t download, don’t share” is stupid. It’s actually the complete antithesis of human nature not to share.

People make the laws. Viacom better wake up and smell the coffee. The backlash hasn’t happened yet but when it does, the fallout will be terrible. Think Sony and the rootkit scandal.

It’s going to be ugly and Viacom will wish they had never heard of You Tube in the end. People will only be pushed so far before they push back. Corporations natural arrogance and greed can only go so far before it bites them in the ass.

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By Yo Ho Ho, it's a...., March 13, 2007 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

lol… your bosses @ viacom will be happy with your comment I’m sure… I agree! Up with corporations! Down with freedom! Up with billion dollar lawsuits! That’ll show those clip pirates… oops, 300 is done downloading, can’t wait, looks awesome! laterz…lol

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By Christopher, March 13, 2007 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment
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It’s no different a day for content creators than it ever was.  Content Owners are definitely having a good day.  Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, are two of the lucky “content creators” (which is a worthless corporate-speak term for the creative minds behind their money, but that’s another rant) that are recognized for their work.  Most of the time you only know who makes a show if you pay attention to the credits.  No special effort is taken to credit the people behind your favorite stuff you see, but the companies responsible get plenty of credit.

The corporate interests have no inherent creative ability, and thus should never be labeled “content creators”, only as “content owners”.  The writers, actors, musicians, artisans and other individuals responsible for the production of the content are the true Content Creators.

Now that I’m done ranting about the semantics of it all, I’m a bit annoyed that Viacom waited until after Google bought YouTube to sue.  The only obvious motivator for the delay is greed.  In Viacom’s defense, the company has a responsibility to protect its bottom line, and if a billion dollars doesn’t cover it, I don’t know what will!

And on a slightly unrelated note, I think the whole copyright system is violently skewed.  As far as I understand, the original purpose of the (US) copyright system was to promote the creation of the arts and foster an “American Culture” with the incentive of a government-granted monopoly on that work, but also with the understanding that art and culture are explicitly linked.  Copyright expired after a reasonable amount of time to allow people to recoup the losses involved in creating their work while still opening up the artwork for the enrichment of society at large.  Ever since the creation and subsequently impending expiration of Mickey Mouse’s copyright, the laws have been pushed towards the owners of copyrights, not necessarily the “content creators”.  As time has moved on, the owners have increasingly benefited from the changes, leaving the original creators with whatever they thought to include in their contracts. 
While I don’t disagree with the idea behind copyright, I think that the execution of it has significantly departed from that idea and should be re-examined.

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By AJ, March 13, 2007 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment
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So much for free advertising.  A clip of South Park shown on an Internet viewing platform outside of Viacom is absolutely free publicity sent from and to people that GET IT.  It generates more DVD sales, and brings newbies to the TV show.  It will all pass and the billions spent on these sights will eventually spawn paid content availability everywhere.  Boring and pathetic.

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By Allie, March 13, 2007 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment
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Thanks for posting that article.  I’ve been reading up on the Viacom lawsuit, and I have to say I am happy for it. 

The internet obviously can’t stay a haven for illegal activity forever.  There will have to be some law-and-order brought to it, for business to thrive there.  That’s just the way it is—advertisers, for example—aren’t going to really embrace sites based on piracy.  And advertising is where most of the money on the net will be made.

I think Viacom has made some good moves.  They bought part of Joost, and put their content on there.  They
have made some better plans for MTV Online.  And now they are ensuring that their content is protected.

It’s a good day for content creators.

- Allie

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