Google Hit with $1 Billion Lawsuit

Dennis Faas's picture

Google Inc. has been dealt a heavy blow in the form of a US $1 billion copyright lawsuit issued by major media corporation, Viacom Inc. The lawsuit specifically targets the unauthorized content found on The website was purchased by Google last November for $1.76 billion.

Viacom, whose subsidiaries include MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central, continuously lashed out against the popular video-sharing site for its lack of enforcement when dealing with copyright issues.

The lawsuit signals an escalation in long-standing tensions between Viacom and Google and also marks the biggest confrontation to date between a major media company and a video-sharing site.

Viacom publicly vented their frustrations, claiming that some of their representatives approached Google last month and politely asked them to remove more than 100,000 Viacom-owned clips that appeared on YouTube. In addition to being slow to comply with the request, Viacom discovered an additional 50,000 unauthorized clips. (Source:

YouTube contends that their service fully co-operates with all copyright holders and removes all unauthorized programming from their site upon notification. (Source:

Viacom argues that this approach allows YouTube to avoid taking the initiative when dealing with copyright issues, instead passing responsibility to the copyright holders themselves.

The lawsuit was formally filed in a New York, U.S. District Court. Among the charges laid, Viacom alleges that YouTube "harnessed technology to willfully infringe copyrights on a huge scale" and also had "brazen disregard" of intellectual property laws. (Source:

The lawsuit has gained tremendous support from the owners of traditional media outlets, who have always felt fear when their content has appeared on YouTube's website. The owners feel that if their material is displayed, without permission or compensation, viewers will eventually be lured away from their outlets, along with the television ad dollars that accompany them.

Industry analysts expect that a number of traditional media companies will now file individual lawsuits against YouTube, now that Viacom has taken the first step in doing so.

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