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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What Viacom is Hoping to Achieve with YouTube Suit

Viacom filed a lawsuit today against YouTube that accuses the site of showing clips of its content more than 1.5 billion times without permission. Sumner Redstone's company is seeking more than $1 billion in damages. Here's the Wall Street Journal story ... and here's coverage from the NY Times.

I don't think Viacom actually believes they're gonna win; YouTube, as an online service, is likely protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as I wrote in Variety just after Google's acquisition of YouTube last year. But this lawsuit is a lick of fire from a giant flamethrower, intended to do one of two things: force YouTube to get better at keeping copyrighted content off its site once the owner demands that it be removed (usually, after content is pulled from YouTube, other users quickly re-post it), or encourage YouTube to offer better revenue-sharing deals to media companies.

But the relationship between Viacom and YouTube may have already deteriorated to the point where that second thing isn't going to happen.

(In other legal news, here Mark Cuban explains why he recently sent subpoenas to Google to get the names of users who were uploading copies of movies he owns the rights to.)

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