YouTube's end game nears

YouTube's end game nears

Summary: Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against Google's YouTube kicks off what could be the end game for the video sharing site. Viacom filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York that alleges a "massive intentional copyright infringement of Viacom's entertainment properties.

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Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against Google's YouTube kicks off what could be the end game for the video sharing site.

Viacom filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York that alleges a "massive intentional copyright infringement of Viacom's entertainment properties." Viacom seeks $1 billion in damages and an injunction prohibiting Google and YouTube from further copyright infringement (this would probably mean that Google would have  stop any Viacom video from being uploaded).

The complaint contends 160,000 unauthorized clips have been available on YouTube and viewed more than 1.5 billion times. And in a roundabout way Viacom can prove damages--the company said its own traffic went up when it pulled its video from YouTube. On Viacom's earnings conference call, CEO  Philippe Dauman said "since we issued the takedown notice, video streaming traffic on our sites has increased dramatically."

That's the basic news. The next question: What does this mean for YouTube?

The short answer: More lawsuits. As Mark Cuban has noted previously lawsuits are a huge risk for GooTube. Can Viacom sister company CBS be that far behind with a lawsuit? How about NBC? Howard Stern? Any actor seeking a royalty? Cuban is serving YouTube subpoenas for giggles. Meanwhile, Google is loaded. The damages are endless.

It's likely that Viacom will trigger a lawsuit avalanche. That possibility raises an interesting question: If you pull all of the professional content from YouTube will it continue to thrive?

Judging from may own behavior--I go to YouTube to watch clips I missed--YouTube will look less appealing without professional content. I just don't care about most of the homemade items. I'm probably not alone in that assessment. Which is why this Viacom suit will be very interesting to watch.

More reading:

Reuters: Viacom on suit.

Donna Bogatin: Google faces $1 billion business model risk. 

Google-YouTube blog focus.

 

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39 comments
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  • The end, or just the beginning

    If Google does indeed lose this suit, then the DMCA's Safe Harbor provisions are essentially worthless. This means that every single ISP, every search engine, every website that lets users submit content are now wide open for huge lawsuits. You can hear the lawyers now, sharpening their knives.
    tic swayback
    • Sorry, there is no safe harbor here.

      As stated, that applies to non-profits.

      Secondly, safe harbor is 100% up to the Judge to apply or refuse to apply.

      Precedence with both Napster and Kazza has been firmly set. (It didn't work for them either.)
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • What DMCA are you reading?

        ---As stated, that applies to non-profits.---

        What? Are you now just making stuff up? Are you claiming that ISPs are non-profits?

        ---Secondly, safe harbor is 100% up to the Judge to apply or refuse to apply.---

        Sure. That's why neither of us knows what will happen here (nor do Google or Viacom's lawyers). And it's not just one judge, it's a series of judges through all the appeals, no matter what is decided at first.

        ---Precedence with both Napster and Kazza has been firmly set. (It didn't work for them either.)---

        True, but those are p2p networks. How section 512 applies to search engines, sites like YouTube, eBay, etc. is an open question.
        tic swayback
  • The end, or just the beginning

    If Google does indeed lose this suit, then the DMCA's Safe Harbor provisions are essentially worthless. This means that every single ISP, every search engine, every website that lets users submit content are now wide open for huge lawsuits. You can hear the lawyers now, sharpening their knives.
    tic swayback
    • I'm not positive but...

      I don't think the DMCA has really been taken for a spin in court.
      Larry Dignan
      • It has in a limited fashion

        Courts decided that section 512 did not cover Napster and Kazaa, otherwise, it's an open question. More info here:

        http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/faq.cgi
        A service provider is defined as "an entity offering transmission, routing, or providing connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user's choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received" or "a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of facilities thereof." [512(k)(1)(A-B)] This broad definition includes network services companies such as Internet service providers (ISPs), search engines, bulletin board system operators, and even auction web sites. In A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster Inc., the court refused to extend the safe harbor provisions to the Napster software program and service, leaving open the question of whether peer-to-peer networks also qualify for safe harbor protection under Section 512.

        There are four major categories of network systems offered by service providers that qualify for protection under the safe harbor provisions:

        * Conduit Communications include the transmission and routing of information, such as an email or Internet service provider, which store the material only temporarily on their networks. [Sec. 512(a)]
        * System Caching refers to the temporary copies of data that are made by service providers in providing the various services that require such copying in order to transfer data. [Sec. 512(b)]
        * Storage Systems refers to services which allow users to store information on their networks, such as a web hosting service or a chat room. [Sec. 512(c)]
        * Information Location Tools refer to services such as search engines, directories, or pages of recommended web sites which provide links to the allegedly infringing material. [Sec. 512(d)]
        tic swayback
    • Really true, if this holds, then any site with user uploaded content is a

      risk. Hey, even ZDNet, we could paste copyrighted material on the talkbacks!!!
      DonnieBoy
      • We probably already have!

        Look out ZDNet...
        jacarter3
      • We probably already have!

        Look out ZDNet...
        jacarter3
        • Stupid bloddy ZD servers... (nt)

          NT
          jacarter3
  • It's The End....

    What really amazes me is that Google bought YouTube. Did they not see this
    coming, and did they not know that by buying it they made themselves a target? I
    think you will see a never ending avalanche of lawsuits.

    The media do not like content to be distributed freely and without permission.
    Unfortunately I think you will see this come to a head and you will see the death of
    any free content on the web, unless it's from the media comapnies themselves.

    They are even going after Internet radio now. It's kind of like the escalation of a
    war, the more the media companies squeeze the more the consumer will pirate
    and copy. Neither side will win totally and your average Joe consumer will be the
    big loser.

    Maybe YouTube can survive without professional content, maybe not. All I know
    is that the administrative and maintenance cost of finding any and all
    unauthorized content will be huge, and will cut into Google's profit margin big
    time.
    IAHawkeye
    • Not that hard.

      The answer is pretty simple, have a user upload a copyrighted work, he/she is banned for life.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
  • Idiots...

    Honestly this is the most pointless article..

    "If you pull all of the professional content from YouTube will it continue to thrive?"

    You make it seems like YouTube is only popular for Viacom videos... wow.. I've seen maybe 1% of 'professional' videos on YouTube and 99% amazing personal made submissions by its large community.

    ZDNet needs better writers.. the latest articles are just pointless and idiotic, I really need to remove ZDNet from my Google Sidebar feed...
    jakex39
    • lots of copyrighted stuff

      I find just the opposite. I find YouTube filled with copyrighted items. Quite a lot of it is homebrewed mashups, some quite good, but nonetheless they are using copyrighted material. I've seen songs that have been turned into videos by the adding of anime, I've seen people dancing to a song playing. That song is copyrighted, that anime is copyrighted.

      Once the full video items are taken down, then the media giants can go after the mashups. And you know they will.
      Amberhawk
      • copyright laws provide for and allow

        for derivative works. You can make mashups and add audio or video alternatives in order to create a new work. The audio samplers have already seen and survived the courts on this.
        jacarter3
        • to an extent, and not much

          There are very strict limits as to how much can be derived, or sampled in derivative works...99% of the stuff on YouTube that uses copyrighted audio is in violation of the so-called "30-sec rule" which covers audio-overs...
          kckn4fun
    • I agree with the article writer

      I have probably watched 2 or 3 personal videos on YouTube, but always go for clips from TV shows that are amazing (like "Stabbing Robot").
      glocks out
    • Idiots, really ?

      [i]"I've seen maybe 1% of 'professional' videos on YouTube".[/i] Can be, but the majority of the links to YouTube that I get through e-mail lead to professional products. Not for "niche products", of course (harmonica lessons, anybody ? Some are quite good), but the real hits come from TV shows and clips.
      Regards.
      TGO2
    • what????

      you tube home videos are crap... what are you 10 years old?
      badolato9
    • I guess that is why YouTube

      or rather Google is fighting to keep the professional content then??? ;-) Think about it...
      No_Ax_to_Grind