Viacom sues YouTube for $1 billion

The ever delightful Mike Masnick over on Techdirt pointed out that young companies innovate, and old timers litigate. One is reminded of his words when reading about Viacom’s decision to YouTube-Google and seek a billion dollars in damages for copyright infringement. Cynthia Brumfield describes the lawsuit as “fluffy.”

Viacom argues that YouTube has knowingly infringed on others’ copyrights, but I guess it is the “knowingly” part that is going to be hard to prove. As Cynthia points out, “There is nothing in this complaint at all about the DMCA and whether YouTube is violating that law, which protects websites from infringement liability if the sites comply with rights holders’ take-down requests.” The whole thing is a little kooky, including the math behind the numbers, as Liz points out.

Someone over on NTV comments pointed out that YouTube has very little watchable user generated content, and quite a bit of content from media companies. I am not sure, given the pace with which YouTube’s traffic has grown even after Viacom asked them to take down their videos.

According to Hitwise, a web traffic analysis company, Viacom sites had 0.12% and 0.16% of weekly market share of total US visits in January and February 2007. In comparison, YouTube had 0.44% and 0.66% of the total visits.

I have argued in response to that comment that Viacom Inc. could have done something about this a long time ago, but didn’t and basically are using this lawsuit to paper over their own incompetence.

mtvyoutube1.pngmtvyoutube2.pngHere is proof: Viacom’s MTV vs YouTube traffic and visitor comparisons. See for yourself, who really missed the boat here! (Data Source: So why sue now? My guess is that they have been reading Google’s SEC filings and trying to figure out how to get some of those billions sitting in the bank!