Viacom Files $1 Billion Lawsuit Against YouTube
According to the Associated Press, Viacom filed a suit Tuesday (March 13) in U.S. District Court in New York, claiming that YouTube, which was purchased by Google, Inc. this past November for a reported $1.76 billion, has shown 160,000 videos owned by Viacom without the company's permission. Viacom is contending that YouTube "harnessed technology to willfully infringe copyrights on a huge scale" and had "brazen disregard" of intellectual property laws.
In February, Viacom, which owns several cable stations, including MTV, BET, VH1 and Comedy Central, reportedly demanded that the site remove more than 100,000 unauthorized clips but has since discovered an additional 50,000 clips according to Jeremy Zweig, a Viacom spokesperson.
"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 said in a statement.
The company is accusing YouTube of not taking the initiative to stop copyright infringement and rather shoulders the responsibility to the individual copyright holders to monitor if their material is being used illegally.
YouTube has expressed that it cooperates with all of its copyright holders and does in fact remove the material once they are notified. In his company's defense, Google spokesman Ricardo Reyes said in a statement that the company has "not received the lawsuit but (is) confident that YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders and believes the courts will agree." Reyes also went on to say that the suit would not "become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube," in a statement obtained from MSN.com.
In addition, Alexander Macgillivray, associate general counsel for products and intellectual property at Google, defends the claims by saying that YouTube was protected under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which gives online service providers protection from copyright lawsuits, pending that they acknowledge and comply with requests to remove unauthorized material.
"We're saying that the DMCA protects what we're doing," Macgillivray said in an interview. On the other hand, he said, "The DMCA is silent on what we have to do if we don't get a notice."