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Viacom sues Google for $1bn

The party's over

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Viacom's patience with Google has finally run out, and the entertainment giant has filed a $1bn copyright infringement suit against Google.

Viacom says the ad giant's YouTube sevice is hosting 160,000 infringing works, which have been viewed 1.5bn times. It alleges that YouTube 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."

In February, Viacom requested that users remove 100,000 clips from the service. But as soon as Google takes them down, up they go up again. Viacom's movie studios include Paramount and Dreamworks, and its TV assets include MTV, the Comedy Channel, and Nickelodeon. Google boffins says they're working on a system to identify infringing material - but not fast enough for Viacom's liking.

The spectacularly clueless DC lobby group Public Knowledge, which lives in Google's pocket, responded to the suit by saying:

“We are confident YouTube and Google will continue to take appropriate actions in accordance with the safe-harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). "

But that horse has already bolted: Google has conceded it's removing infringing material. And while legal experts disagree, selling adverts next to infringing material doesn't make the cries of innocence sound any more sincere.

Last year Google struck a revenue sharing deal with music giant Universal, which then sued smaller video sites including Grouper and Bolt. YouTube already has revenue sharing deals with CBS and Sony BMG.

Last week, Viacom struck a deal with P2P TV service Joost - reminding Google that YouTube isn't the only "platform" in town. ®

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