Sensing blood in the water an aggressively vindictive Viacom is suing Google for $1 billion in damages for alleged copyright violations. The company also seeks an injunction against future copyright violations. From the WSJ piece:
In a statement Tuesday, Viacom lashed out at YouTube’s business practices, saying it 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.” Viacom said YouTube’s 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.”
A surprisingly public “pissing match” ensued when negotiations broke down between the two companies, presumably over Viacom’s compensation/license fees/share of revenues for videos displayed on YouTube. Now Viacom, as a kind of standard bearer for traditional media, seeks to strike a powerful blow against the new media interloper.
This is operatic legal theater. And I now don’t believe that Viacom is “negotiating” with Google at this point. Viacom seems emboldened by its defiance and claims its various online properties are doing well since its traffic was removed from YouTube.
In one legalistic way of looking at the world, what Viacom is seeking to do in getting an injunction makes some sense if it has decided to quit YouTube. But you also get the sense that the company (or the legal department) has irrational, vindictive motives (“We’re going to make those bastards pay; they built that site on our backs!”) for filing the litigation.
Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone is not to be trifled with. After all, he’s the executive who fired Tom Cruise!