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.
Reuters: Viacom on suit.
Donna Bogatin: Google faces $1 billion business model risk.
Google-YouTube blog focus.