Viacom launches infringement lawsuit against YouTube

April 2007


Media giant Viacom (parent company of MTV, Nickleodeon and Paramount) is seeking $1B in compensation against YouTube, claiming that 160,000 unauthorised clips have been uploaded and watched over 1.5B times on the video-sharing service. It is also seeking an injunction to prevent YouTube users from illegally uploading any more of its content. Viacom has alleged that YouTube has failed to implement sufficient filtering safeguards and that negotiations were “unproductive”. The legal battle is now moving up a gear as Viacom accuses YouTube of increasing  user traffic and upping ad revenues as a result of the use “unlicensed content [which] is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws”. YouTube is now owned by Google which brought the user generated platform for $1.65 billion in 2006. It is not the first time YouTube have faced the threat of egal action. Major record labels such as warners and Universal threatened action but eventually entered into commercial relationships with the platform. It is expected that Youtube will use the ‘safe harbour’ provisions Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 as a primary defence against Viacom’s claims although clearly the decision of the Supreme Court in MGM v Grokster will be an important factor here.

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