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Viacom sues YouTube for $1 billion

As many have expected all along, Google’s YouTube has been slapped with its first major copyright lawsuit. After demanding YouTube remove its clips on February 2nd, Viacom has just filed a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube. The suit alleges that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s programming have been available on YouTube and that these clips have been viewed more than 1.5 billion times. Viacom is also seeking an injunction to prevent any more copyrighted clips from appearing on YouTube. Viacom released the statement:

“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. 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 revenues for itself while shifting the entire burden – and high cost – of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement.”

It doesn’t take long to find Viacom clips on YouTube today, despite that takedown order back in February. YouTube still hasn’t delivered on filtering technology promised for the beginning of the year that would block copyrighted material from appearing on the site, and this delay has soured its relationships with media companies.

Full Viacom statement below…

PRESS RELEASE — NEW YORK, March 13 — Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and
VIA.B) today announced that it has sued YouTube and Google in U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York for massive 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
contends that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s programming
have been available on YouTube and that these clips had been viewed more
than 1.5 billion times.

In connection with the filing, Viacom released the following statement:

“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. 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 revenues 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.”

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