Viacom sues YouTube for $1 billion over copyrights

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Viacom Inc. is suing YouTube and its corporate parent Google Inc. for alleged copyright infringement and is seeking more than $1 billion in damages.

The complaint says that approximately 160,000 unauthorized clips of programming owned by Viacom - which includes MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon - have been available on the popular video-sharing Web site.

"We have not received the lawsuit but are confident that YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders and believe the courts will agree," said a representative from Google in an official statement. "We will certainly not let this suit become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube and its ability to attract more users, more traffic and build a stronger community."

In February, Viacom, New York, demanded that YouTube remove more than 100,000 unauthorized video clips from its site after several months of talks between the companies broke down. Viacom filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and is also seeking an injunction prohibiting Google and YouTube from using its clips.

To combat copyright infringement, YouTube has created the "Claim Your Content" program. This feature places a content identification and reporting system for user-uploaded videos, giving content partners the ability to remove content or share in the advertising revenue generated, if any.

"The friction over copyright could be overcome in one blow if YouTube would agree to share more of its ad revenue," said James McQuivey, principal analyst covering television and media technology at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. "Then, as partners, YouTube and the studios could work together on the copyright issue. Think money first, rights second. After all, what are rights other than a way to charge money?"

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