Viacom Sues Google for $1B

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Viamcom has filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York alleging that Google infringed on their copyrights by streaming more than 150,000 clips of movies and TV shows owned by Viacom. SiliconValley.com posted the story on Tuesday.

Viacom owns both MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures.

The suit stated, "Defendants know and intend that a substantial amount of the content on the YouTube site consists of unlicensed infringing copies of copyrighted works and have done little or nothing to prevent this massive infringement."

Google issued the following statement.

"We have not received the lawsuit but are confident that YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders and believe the courts will agree. YouTube is great for users and offers real opportunities to rights holders: the opportunity to interact with users; to promote their content to a young and growing audience; and to tap into the online advertising market. 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."

Google has also enlisted the help of Audible Magic in Los Gatos, CA to assist with filtering technology to block the upload of copyrighted material, but has not yet enabled the filters. Adding to the problem, users upload the material again as fast as itis removed.

Gregory Rutchik, the founding lawyer of The Arts and Technology Law Group based in San Francisco, spoke with TMO about the lawsuit.

In his opinion, there are several deeper factors at play. First, Viacom may be engaging in this lawsuit simply for the publicity. Second, the MPAA has consistently declined to universally utilize digital watermarks to track their IP, preferring instead to place the reponsibiity on others to police their content.

In addition, the DMCA appears to protect Google through the "Safe Harbor" provision. However, Google must in turn respond to each "take down" notice, and that has been a technical challenge.

"Right now," Mr. Rutchik said, "YouTube is hardly damaged property, and the current lawsuit simply reflects a bit of frustration on the part of Viacom and their technical inadeqacies in the control of their IP."

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