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Viacom is playing divide and rule with the internet TV wannabes. After issuing 100,000 take down notices to YouTube contributors, the media giant has signed a deal that allows Joost to distribute its content legitimately.

Joost is an on-demand TV over broadband service that offers media companies a proprietary alternative to the industry-standard IPTV platform. It was started by Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, and was formerly known as the Venice Project. It works on any reasonable modern PC, and although users need to download some client software, it's free.

The Viacom empire includes Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks, the Comedy Channel, MTV, and Nickelodeon, making it the owner of many of YouTube's most popular clips.

As Joost CEO Fredrik de Wahl told us recently, the company created its own DRM to lock down the content, which was surely a factor in making Joost a much more attractive alternative than Google's YouTube.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is a rude awakening for Google, which spent $1.6bn on YouTube last year. Google had only belatedly offered to filter uploads for copyright violations. Rights owners argued that with a market capitalisation of $75bn, Google could afford to try a little harder.

With upstarts like Joost, media companies can now afford to look elsewhere. ®

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