YouTube + Viacom = Lawsuit Fun

March 14th, 2007 | Categories: networks, social media, video

YouTube logoWell, it was only a matter of time. Viacom is the first major player to drop the bomb, but expect more than just the infantry to attack. This ‘big’ news did not really come as a shock to myself (or many others). I expect others to follow suit in the near future.

Can you see it? A tear is running from my eye. The days of visiting YouTube to find absolutely everything may be numbered. This copyright-infringing fortress’ walls may come crashing down very soon.

Here are some of the numbers and facts:

  • U.S. law allows damages of $750 to $150,000 per copyright violation.
  • Viacom claims over 1.5 billion views of 160,000 Viacom clips.
  • Each view is a potential copyright violation.
  • In other words, Google could face a potential lawsuit of up to $225 trillion if Viacom’s numbers are correct (and I can do math, pffffft).

Some ugly math for YouTube and Google to swallow. And all of a sudden, $1 billion seems like a steal… Though Google does have $10 billion in the bank, paying out lawsuit after lawsuit is only a short term fix for longer, larger-scale problem.

Now let’s look at this from a high level view: who really goes to YouTube to look at anything other than copyright-infringing material. My guess is 5% of visitors AT MOST (and I think I’m being generous here). Now If all this content gets taken down, what’s left of YouTube - UGC or user-generated crap. Sure, the odd clip is funny or informative. But for the most part, I don’t care about some 14 year old drop-out from Indiana who broke his skateboard.

Currently, YouTube continues to proclaim that it is taking a proactive approach to removing all illegal content. That statement alone is funnier than most of their clips. I can still find anything I’m looking for, no matter whether it’s copyright-infringing or not.

The premise of the lawsuit and all similar lawsuits is that the creators should be rewarded for their work. Time and money are put forth to create the content, so monetary compensation for its use should be mandatory. Seems pretty straight forward to me. But instead of working closely with publishers to form partnerships, YouTube has strayed away from the scene, opting for the “we’ll take it down if you ask us” approach.

Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting the site to find all my favourite copyright- and non-copyright-infringing videos. My hope is that if YouTube does plunge into obscurity like its audio predecessor Napster, some other video site will rise to the top and takes its place.

This trial will be interesting to follow as it sets a precedent for future trials between video sites and content publishers and owners. Either way the story ends, the eternal battle between the free world and content publishers will continue onward.

NOTE: If you’re bored or looking for more info on the story, read about it here, here, here, here, here, or here.

One Comment

  1. YouTube soon to launch copyright detection system | Claim Your Content » Web TV Wire Says:

    […] It seems coincidental that this announcement comes shortly after Viacom announced its major $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube. […]

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