Tuesday, March 13, 2007

YouTube sued

The YouTube model is being challenged over copyright violation:

Media conglomerate Viacom Inc. (VIA) said Tuesday that it was suing Google Inc. (GOOG) and its Internet video-sharing site YouTube for more than $1 billion over unauthorized use of its programming online.

The lawsuit, the biggest challenge to date to Google's ambitions to make YouTube into a major vehicle for advertising and entertainment, accuses the Web search leader and its unit of "massive intentional copyright infringement."

Viacom filed the suit with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking more than $1 billion in damages and an injunction against further violations.

Viacom contends that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of its programming have been uploaded onto YouTube's site and viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

"YouTube's strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site," Viacom said in a statement. "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."
Viacom has a point. YouTube wouldn't be so successful if it just showed home videos. Lots of people, including me, go there to catch TV shows we missed.

I've a feeling this will be where the copyright battle is decided. I also suspect this will either make or break Microsoft's investment in IP and performing rights protection. I'd bet on "break".

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