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Viacom: Start Yanking, YouTube

Viacom is demanding video-sharing site YouTube take down 100,000 clips, including content from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks. The move follows what the media company feels was frustrating distribution negotiations.

Viacom said "it has become clear that YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement" on content distribution. The last straw was YouTube video results appearing in Google Video's search.

"Filtering tools promised repeatedly by YouTube and Google have not been put in place, and they continue to host and stream vast amounts of unauthorized video," continued Viacom. YouTube serves up 1.2 billion video streams of Viacom content, the media company told internetnews.com.

Google, which purchased YouTube in October for $1.65 billion, has downplayed legal storm clouds, pointing to its policy of quickly removing infringing videos.

Despite the large number of videos YouTube must remove, Viacom expects to see the majority of offending clips gone by the end of the day, a spokesperson said. YouTube was provided a specific list of videos.

This isn't the first request by Viacom to remove content from YouTube. Last year, Google removed thousands of Comedy Central clips.

Last week, a U.S. District Court in Northern California told Google to hand over information that could let Fox discover who illegally uploaded episodes of "24" and "The Simpsons."

YouTube responded it has helped promote Viacom's show. "It is unfortunate Viacom will no longer be able to benefit from YouTube's passionate audience," a spokesperson told internetnews.com

YouTube said in a statement it received Viacom's request. "We will comply."

Viacom's request is not practical, a media analyst told internetnews.com

"It's unrealistic for Viacom to believe that material will stay off," said Yankee Group's Mike Goodman. Ultimately, YouTube can't stop it. The onus would be on Viacom to watch for videos to reappear and notify YouTube.

For YouTube, the massive takedown could potentially hurt. "The best stuff and most-watched would be removed," the analyst predicted.

Goodman said video-sharing technology has passed Viacom by, leaving them only one option: "They can hold a hammer over Google's head."

Although YouTube has signed distribution deals with CBS, NBC, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony BMG, the service needs a blanket distribution agreement to avoid future conflicts with content owners.

"Our hope is that YouTube and Google will support a fair and authorized distribution model," Viacom said.