Viacom Chooses The Nuclear Option For YouTube

from the dr-evil-setting-the-demands dept

Last month, after failed negotiations, Viacom ordered YouTube to remove more than 100,000 clips containing Viacom content from its site, and said it would launch its own video site with a bunch of copycat features (usability not being one of them). Apparently Viacom's figured out that paying for all that bandwidth might get expensive, as it's now sued YouTube and Google for $1 billion, and it's seeking an injunction against the site. Viacom contends YouTube's business model is "illegal" and that it's intentionally infringed the company's copyright, saying that more than 160,000 unauthorized clips have been available on YouTube, and viewed more than 1.5 billion times. The suit illustrates Viacom's misunderstanding of the web and YouTube: its claim for $1 billion essentially says that's the amount of money it thinks it's missed out on because of YouTube (just to put it in perspective, Viacom's 2006 revenues were $11.5 billion). That's pretty ridiculous, and should Viacom's own video site ever become popular enough to deliver similar viewer stats, the revenues it generates will underline that. What's more likely to damage Viacom's business is removing the clips from YouTube, since it offers a free promotional outlet -- something other broadcasters have noticed -- that may not directly generate revenue for the company, but indirectly drives viewers to its revenue-generating products. Update: Over at NewTeeVee, Liz Gannes takes a look at the numbers, while on IP Democracy, Cynthia Brumfield has examined the suit and calls it "fluffy", noting it never even cites the DMCA, which one would imagine would be particularly relevant here.

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  1. identicon
    harknell, 13 Mar 2007 @ 9:31am

    Re: Sue or lose your rights?

    Copyright rights are never lost during the timeframe that you own them. Trademark though is a right that you must defend or lose. (trademark is actually really a fraud prevention method--the "mark" allows your customers to know that they are buying a legitimate product from you, if someone else uses your trademark they may be defrauding someone by selling them something that the customer thinks is from you--thats why it has to be defended or lost)

    Copyright is simply the "right to copy", you have the right to dictate who can make or sell copies of your work. You can't lose that right unless you assign it to someone else, or the copyright timeframe lapses. What can happen is that if someone copies your work, and you know that it is happening, the copier, if sued by you, can say they were not "knowingly infringing" since they assumed that since you knew and did nothing it was ok for them to copy your work--however, that does not allow them to continue though if you tell them to stop, it only means that up to that point they can't be hit as a "knowing infringer" for a large amount of $$$, the amount for unknowing infringement is much smaller if anything at all. Fan sites and other such uses of copyright material does not mean the original loses all ability to force them to take stuff down, essentially they are copying at the leisure of the owner, but can be stopped at any point.

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