Dear Viacom: It's In Your Best Interest To Lose The YouTube Lawsuit

from the a-million-tiny-YouTubes... dept

I almost hate to start off with a Star Wars quote, but it's impossible to resist on this story. In the original Star Wars movie, Obi-Wan Kenobi has the infamous line: "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine." That same message was suggested to the RIAA before it successfully "won" its lawsuit against Napster. But that "win" turned out to be quite the Pyrrhic victory in the end. Rather than killing off unauthorized file sharing, it merely splintered it, into many more systems -- many of which were further underground, making it harder and harder to try to keep track of it, or come up with any real way to embrace it and take advantage of it. And, every time the industry crushes another file sharing service, many more rush in to take up the slack. The end result is that the amount of unauthorized file sharing just continues to increase -- and now the industry is left trying to figure out how it can possibly embrace the mess that it helped create.

The same thing has the potential to happen with Viacom and YouTube. We've already discussed the latest back-and-forth in that lawsuit, but Cord Bloomquist makes a very interesting point: Viacom would probably be better off if it lost. That's because online video won't go away... it will just splinter and move further underground. It won't cut down on videos being available online -- or even how many people are watching those videos (if history is any indication, the opposite will happen). But what it will do, it make it that much more difficult for Viacom to figure out ways to embrace the trend and actually make more money off of it.

I was having some conversations over the weekend with some folks who think that Viacom probably realizes this -- and that it just filed the lawsuit against Google as the first (heavy-handed) step in a "negotiation" to get Google to settle and pay up. What it didn't count on (despite it being discussed widely) was that Google is not only willing to take these cases as far as they go, but it wants to do so, to put in place serious and useful case law to avoid these types of lawsuits in the future. So, the real question then becomes whether or not Viacom really recognizes this, and if it's even possible for the company to back out gracefully.

Filed Under: hydra, lawsuits, unintended consequences, video
Companies: google, viacom, youtube

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  1. identicon
    Marvin, 4 Jun 2008 @ 8:55am

    Great article, and Viacom should learn the lessens of history. Youtube will keep expanding and splintering. Just take a look at sites like and you'll see what the future holds for Youtube.


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