A little analysis of the Viacom lawsuit for copyright infringement: YouTube suit is fight for control of content - pdf
Most of the video clips that TV networks are willing to share with YouTube aren’t the stuff people want to watch.
[...] So why is Viacom Inc. bothering to sue YouTube? It’s all about control, and money.
Networks won’t give YouTube much of their most-popular material because they believe that Google Inc., which owns YouTube, isn’t protecting their copyrighted content. What’s more, Google isn’t offering to pay them what they think is enough. And even if the networks could sort out the financial issues, they still want to dictate which ads would be placed around their clips â€” and not have their shows thrown into the mishmash of fistfights, karaoke performances or ladybugs having sex.
Most advertisers “want to be in the VIP section, the section that requires a higher price for admission,” said Tim Hanlon, an executive with French advertising giant Publicis Groupe. “YouTube’s audience is a polyglot and random. It’s one gigantic lowest common denominator.”
[...] “You’ve got a real issue here with the traditional programmers, the networks, who are starting to get concerned that they don’t own the distribution network anymore,” said Larry Kramer, former chief of digital media for CBS Corp. who now consults for the company. “They paid all this money to create great content, but it was the distribution system that helped them pay for all of this great content. Their position is that ‘We don’t produce content to give it away for free.’ ”
Some believe that Google represents the most serious threat to the television business since the remote control. The search giant was once viewed as an engine to drive traffic to the networks’ websites, but with its $1.65-billion acquisition of YouTube, Google became a rival.
Ultimately, it sounds like Google’s learning what it is to become a media company - to wit, learning how to play ball in the big leagues:
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, speaking to investors last week, said he wasn’t concerned about the tough talk. And he made light of the TV industry’s complaint that Google was acting too high and mighty: “I’m sure we’re arrogant. But I have learned that as part of being a player in the media industry, part of negotiations is that everything is leaked and you are sued to death.”
Viacom CEO Philippe P. Dauman said his company went to court to enforce its copyrights and protect its valuable brands, such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. That doesn’t mean Viacom won’t one day strike a deal with YouTube. “Certainly, Dauman said, “we could find ways to operate in a YouTube environment that would be compatible with our brands.”
The LATimes also has this editorial: Copyright still matters: Viacom’s message to Google: Copyright holders’ rights don’t dissolve in the age of the Internet. - pdf
Some Internet romantics view this kind of litigation as typical of lumbering, old-economy behemoths. Incapable of innovation and suspicious of technology, content conglomerates such as Viacom respond by filing lawsuits. But like the “useful arts” mentioned in the Constitution, the programs owned by Viacom and other entertainment companies cost money to produce. Companies have the right to protect that investment â€” even in the age of YouTube.