Here we go! Viacom, which has been "negotiating" with YouTube for months in an attempt to protect its valuable clips of foul-mouthed cartoon children and crank-calling pieces of felt, has upped the ante in its battle with the Google property. They're suing the fuck out of them, Kurt Eichenwald style! Full memo after the jump. This one's gonna be good, we can feel it.
TO: All Viacom Employees FROM: Philippe Dauman DATE: March 13, 2007 As you already know, Viacom has spent months trying to come to an agreement with Google and YouTube in order to provide our popular video content on the YouTube platform. Unfortunately, they refused to negotiate a reasonable licensing offer. Instead, YouTube continues to take no responsibility for airing copyrighted content, and selling advertising against it. None of this advertising is shared with us, and despite many promises, Youtube has not taken any significant steps to keep our creative works off the site and no timetable has been set.
Therefore, today Viacom has brought action in U.S. District Court against Google and YouTube in order to protect our creative works from their continuing and intentional infringement, and to be compensated for the significant past infringement of our copyrights, which resulted in damages in excess of $1 billion.
The decision to take this step was thoughtfully considered by our entire management team and our Board of Directors. We had hoped and expected that Google and YouTube would voluntarily comply with the law, and would respect the creativity and hard work of the people whose imagination, effort and investment created some of the most popular entertainment on their platform. We have continued at our expense to take down our content from YouTube but have seen no significant movement from Google or YouTube to rectify this untenable situation.
As always, I greatly appreciate all your continued good work and support. The attached press release describes today's announcement in more detail.
VIACOM FILES FEDERAL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST YOUTUBE AND GOOGLE
Suit Seeks Court Ruling to Require YouTube and Google
to Comply With Copyright Laws and Pay $1 Billion in Damages
NEW YORK, March 13, 2007 - Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B) today announced that it has sued YouTube and Google in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for massive intentional copyright infringement of Viacom's entertainment properties. The suit seeks more than $1 billion in damages, as well as an injunction prohibiting Google and YouTube from further copyright infringement. The complaint contends that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom's programming have been available on YouTube and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.
In connection with the filing, Viacom released the following statement:
"YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others' creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google. Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws. In fact, YouTube's strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site, thus generating significant traffic and revenues for itself while shifting the entire burden - and high cost - of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement.
This behavior stands in stark contrast to the actions of other significant distributors, who have recognized the fair value of entertainment content and have concluded agreements to make content legally available to their customers around the world.
There is no question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take the fruit of our efforts without permission and destroying enormous value in the process. This is value that rightfully belongs to the writers, directors and talent who create it and companies like Viacom that have invested to make possible this innovation and creativity.
After a great deal of unproductive negotiation, and remedial efforts by ourselves and other copyright holders, YouTube continues in its unlawful business model. Therefore, we must turn to the courts to prevent Google and YouTube from continuing to steal value from artists and to obtain compensation for the significant damage they have caused."
Viacom is a leading global entertainment content company, with prominent and respected brands. Engaging its audiences through television, motion pictures and digital platforms, Viacom seeks to reach its audiences however they consume content. Viacom's leading brands include the multiplatform properties of MTV Networks, including MTV: Music Television, VH1, CMT: Country Music Television, Logo, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, COMEDY CENTRAL, Spike TV, TV Land, and more than 130 networks around the world, as well as digital assets such as MTV.com, comedycentral.com, VSPOT, TurboNick, Neopets, Xfire and iFilm; BET Networks; Paramount Pictures; DreamWorks; and Famous Music. More information about Viacom and its businesses is available at www.viacom.com.