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March 13, 2007

Viacom-Google suit -- what will happen

by Josh Bernoff

Viacom has sued Google for $1 billion. Now what? Thoughts from a media analyst.

  1. Who's right? Doesn't matter. Watch the positioning of the companies. There's no point in arguing legal rights now that the battle is joined -- anything you read on that is just spin.
  2. The other media companies (most of them) will quietly (and some more noisily) line up behind Viacom.
  3. Viacom will not give up until it can claim victory. The Grokster decision will embolden them, since it basically says that acting as if you don't care about copyright, together with a little encouragement, is enough to shut you down. So if Google doesn't move in a very public way to accomodate Viacom's copyrights, this is going to the Supreme Court.
  4. Alternatively, Google may settle. Such a settlement would include automated copyright checking with tools like Audible Magic. It won't be perfect. But Viacom won't work with Google until the two can work as partners in copyright checking, and Google publicly announces a copyright checking system that Viacom endorses
  5. Either way, this is now a major annoyance for Google. Forget the cost of the suit. The more time the management spends on lawsuits, the harder it is for them to roll out innovations -- especially if they have to watch out for copyright suits at every turn.

For reference our previous posts on this:

Audible Magic copyright checking at Google (still not confirmed)
Solving the copyright puzzle (an attempt at being reasonable)
Microsoft attempts to marginalize Google over copyrights (the enemy of my enemy . . .)
Viacom and Google/Youtube: A temporary setback (James McQuivey's hope for a peaceful solution)
Youtube is goin' down (my pre-Google analysis by analogy with Napster -- could still be right)
Youtube finds a way out (how it looked right after the merger announcement)

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Comments

Account Deleted

Another theory a friend of mine floated today is that this is a "negotiating" tactic to get more favorable terms with Google.

It's bizarre to me that media companies don't understand the value of user-posted clips as free advertising. They spend a fortune promoting shows, and the most dedicated YouTube audience is the hardest to reach through traditional channels. I know I never watched The Colbert Report until someone linked me to a clip; I was addicted to it all summer after that...

mark cuban

great point on the freeze on future Google Developments, particularly in the video area.
if they do anything going forward that ignores copyright, the meter runs and runs.

anon

I love it..."anything you read on that is just spin"....

...followed by "...the Grokster decision will embolden them, since it basically says that acting as if you don't care about copyright, together with a little encouragement, is enough to shut you down. So if Google doesn't move in a very public way to accomodate Viacom's copyrights, this is going to the Supreme Court."

Isn't this a bit of a contradiction?

Bob Hughes

This is surely more about control of the distribution channel than copyright per se. If google didn't have so much power over the distribution, surely viacom would be happy for the free advertising. After all, youtube + a good clip is pretty much the ideal viral marketing.

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