Why write about Viacom's suit against Google in an open source blog?
Because there but for the grace of open source goes software. (The image is from the ZDNet blog of Donna Bogatin, who holds a different, albeit quite valid, view on these topics.)
Back at the turn of the century stories like this one dominated the pages at ZDNet and the rest of the computer press. Proprietary software companies, through the Business Software Alliance, were raiding many American businesses, and anger toward these tactics was growing.
You don't read much about it any more, and I don't believe that's because of BSA's enforcement efforts. It's because companies which don't feel they can afford BSA member prices have an alternative. They can get it free, through open source, and pay for only the support they need.
Instead, most BSA activities today involve Internet pirates and international activity. The number of DMCA notices for violation of U.S. software licenses has slowed to a trickle. And I for one fully support these BSA actions. "Selling" software you don't own for "bargain" prices is no bargain, it's theft on both sides, and you just don't have to do it.
No such compromise is available on the video front. Viacom claims Google's YouTube is profiting from piracy, but YouTube is not monetizing the traffic in question. Viacom is, but its costs for hosting are not inconsiderable, its distribution capacity is limited, and the failure to create a network of online resellers is, over the long run, untenable.
The agreement Viacom has with Joost must also be questioned. The Joost application uses peer-to-peer technology. Critics in the ISP space may thus call it a bandwidth pirate. At least Google's system is open about those costs.
Only direct negotiations, and a financial accommodation, can end the content copyright wars. Waiting for corporate egos and their lawyers to do the right thing, absent the market pressure open source provided in software, however, is bound to be painful.