Viacom’s $1B Exaggeration?

An executive from a rival studio isn’t buying the key argument behind Viacom’s copyright infringement suit against Google.

Intellectual property lawyers for a major studio describe Google as “very cooperative” in efforts to fight copyright infringement on YouTube, an executive at a rival studio told

This contradicts the key argument behind the lawsuit Viacom filed against Google this week. Viacom claims in its suit that YouTube’s strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site, building a “lucrative” business out of “exploiting” others’ creative works. Google has not shown good faith in fighting copyright infringement, the argument goes.

But the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was not his company’s experience that Google avoids action. He added, however, that it might appear that way given the number of videos YouTube hosts.

“With sites that large, you’re never going to be able to stay
completely ahead of it. You’re always going to be playing catch-up,” the
executive said. “There’s going to be content for an amount of time before they have a chance to take it down. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

The executive also said his company recognizes the benefits his
studio receives from viewers sharing some of its copyrighted
materials online, which is another departure from Viacom’s view.

“It’s promotional. It gets fans talking. It generates excitement for
a property and allows fans to share their excitement,” the executive
said. He said his company is taking a “wait and see” on YouTube and
Google, looking to reap such benefits and protect its property when

For allowing its copyrighted material to be shared online, however,
Viacom seeks more than $1 billion in damages from Google.

“There is no question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take
the fruit of our efforts with permission and destroying enormous
value in the process,” Viacom said in a statement. The company said it will not comment further on the suit.

In an e-mail to, Google general counsel Kent
Walker said YouTube doesn’t need Viacom’s material. “YouTube has become even more popular since we took down Viacom’s material,” Walker said.

“We think that’s a testament to the draw of the user- generated
content on YouTube. We’ve been very successful forging thousands of
successful partnerships with content owners — like Warner Music,
Sony/BMG, Universal Music, BBC, and the NBA — interested in finding
new audiences for their programming. And we’re only getting started.”

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