In what could be described as throwing its toys out of the pram, Viacom has slapped Google with a $1Billion law suit, accusing Google-owned YouTube of "massive intentional copyright infringement". In addition to compensation, Viacom has asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for an injunction to halt the alleged infringement.
The accusation is a familiar one from Viacom and other Google rivals:
[YouTube is building] a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others' creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent, Google.
In fact, YouTube's strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site, thus generating significant traffic and revenues for itself while shifting the entire burden--and high cost--of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement.
It's certainly true that the onus is on content owners to monitor their content and instigate DMCA take-down notices -- that's how the DMCA provides 'safe harbor' for 'infrastructure' providers like YouTube. And it's also clear that Google could be doing a lot more to help out content providers protect their copyright (where are those filtering tools?).
It maybe that this new lawsuit is just another negotiating tactic -- Viacom readily admits that negotiations have stalled. However, if this does go to court, it might not just be YouTube's business model that is put under scrutiny, but the DMCA 'safe harbor' clause itself. And that would be a bad thing for the Internet as a whole.
Related post: Viacom to YouTube: show us the money (and those filtering tools you promised)