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Cuban Scoffs at Google, YouTube Rumors

WASHINGTON -- "Should Google buy YouTube?" It was the first question asked of keynote speaker Mark Cuban Friday afternoon at an Online News Association conference.

"They'd be crazy," Cuban shot back.

The question came amid a swirl of blog and media stories that Google is negotiating to buy the popular online video site for as much as $1.6 billion. The rumor originally appeared Thursday night on the Techcrunch blog.

"Rumors are rumors and just that," Cuban said.

Google told internetnews.com Friday it does not comment on rumor and speculation. YouTube did not respond to telephone or e-mail inquiries for comment.

Cuban, who made his fortune in the 1990s by founding and then selling MicroSolutions and Broadcasting.com, is a frequent critic of YouTube, claiming the popular online video site will eventually run afoul of U.S. copyright laws, much like the original Napster.

The closely held YouTube of San Mateo, Calif., claims more than 100 million videos are viewed daily on its site, making it the No. 2 video site on the Internet behind MySpace.

The videos range from home productions to television clips. Even the home videos, however, use copyrighted material such as individuals lip-synching to popular songs.

"Once you go commercial, once you have to monitor for copyright violations, your whole business model changes," Cuban said. "They [YouTube] are going to get crushed."

The outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team and movie producer said YouTube is begging for a massive copyright infringement lawsuit.

"The fact that YouTube is building a traffic juggernaut around copyrighted audio and video without being sued is like....well Napster at the beginning as the labels were trying to figure out what it meant to them," Cuban recently wrote on his blog.

Friday, Cuban said YouTube doesn't want to know about copyrighted material on its site.

"They monitor for pornography, so they can monitor for copyrights," Cuban said. "But they don't want to because they know half their traffic will go away."

Cuban's overall theme was that the future of online media is being transport- and format-agnostic.

"Everybody is always trying to make it about the Internet," he said. "They act like it's 1999 all over again. The Internet is old news. It just is what it is."

Since bits are bits, online media producers only need to determine how to deliver the bits, Cuban said.

"It really is about delivering the product and what the relationship is between all the parties. YouTube is a poor example of that opportunity."