Viacom to take YouTube to court

Viacom is seeking $1bn (519m) in damages against YouTube and owner Google for copyright infringement claiming the site’s business model is “illegal”…

Viacom is seeking $1bn (£519m) in damages against YouTube and owner Google for copyright infringement claiming the site’s business model is “illegal”.

The global entertainment content company which owns MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon has filed a federal copyright infringement complaint today against YouTube, the web’s most popular video sharing website, in America.

The complaint has been lodged at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for “massive intentional copyright infringement” of Viacom’s entertainment properties.

The suit seeks more than $1 billion in damages, as well as an injunction that would prohibit Google and YouTube using clips from any of its programmes.

The complaint contends that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s programming have been made available on YouTube and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

A Viacom statement says: “YouTube is a significant, for-profit organisation that 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.

“Their 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.”

Viacom believes that YouTube’s strategy has been to avoid taking “proactive” steps to curtail infringement, and this has generated traffic and revenues for the website while shifting the burden and cost of monitoring onto the “victims of its infringement”.

The statement continues: “There is no question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take the fruit of our efforts without permission and destroying enormous value in the process.”

It says unproductive negotiation and remedial efforts have failed and forced the media giant to turn to the courts.

The action contrasts with a deal that YouTube agreed earlier this month with the BBC. Three YouTube channels – one for news and two for entertainment – will showcase short clips of BBC content. The BBC hopes that the deal will help it reach YouTube’s monthly audience of more than 70 million users and drive extra traffic to its own website. The corporation will also get a share of the advertising revenue generated by traffic to the new YouTube channels.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here