Viacom Sues YouTube for $1B

Viacom sued YouTube and Google today, seeking an injunction against the video site’s display of copyrighted materials and more than $1 billion in damages for 160,000 copies of its content on the site seen 1.5 billion times.

In a press release accompanying the lawsuit (download full lawsuit here), Viacom said,

“YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others’ creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google. Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws. 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.”

Viacom had previously demanded Google pull more than 100,000 clips from YouTube seen 1.2 billion times, an order YouTube had complied with, though the accusations appear to have risen in size since then. Viacom has also announced it will be sending its content to emerging YouTube alternative Joost.

YouTube has yet to formally roll out any copyright filtering technology, something the site promised it would do before the end of last year.

Just last week, video site Bolt settled a similar lawsuit for approximately $10 million with Universal Music Group, something it had to sell itself to GoFish in order to manage.

Update: Reuters has a report out as well

Update 2: Google’s response, as quoted on various sites:

We have not received the lawsuit but are confident that YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders and believe the courts will agree. YouTube is great for users and offers real opportunities to rights holders: the opportunity to interact with users; to promote their content to a young and growing audience; and to tap into the online advertising market. We will certainly not let this suit become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube and its ability to attract more users, more traffic and build a stronger community.