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
    Chris, 13 Mar 2007 @ 10:21am


    All the work that goes into putting together a news broadcast, the interviews, the sound bytes, the digital recordings, etc... are the property of the parent company producing them. Once they go out over the airwaves however it becomes public domain. Other news companies can use their clips, quote their reports, and quite generaly pick and pull any clip they want to use as they see fit. This is allowed becuase it's a collaborative effort to help get a story exposure. Granted the news today isn't worth anyone's time, but the idea is to give credit where credit is due and use other's content to help expanded the "consumer" base.

    What Viacom needs to acknowledge is that it's just plain stupid to not allow services such as YouTube to host their content. The only thing you're going to do is present yourself as being a greedy corporation to your demographic. Let's face it, the majority of viewers for MTV and Comedy Central aren't going to support your decisions when you restrict them from freely access your shows. They WANT to see them, so allow them to do so at their convenience. You get free advertising, don't have to pay for the bandwidth, and with the added exposure might even get more viewers when new shows come on, all the while still retaining your rights to your media. Allowing YouTube to have your content = winwin. Suing them is just going to get you bad PR amongst your demographic.

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