Viacom, frustrated with continued posting of copyrighted content, has fought back against YouTube and its owner Google. Viacom filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court seeking more than US$1 billion in damages and claiming “massive intentional copyright infringement.” The suit also lists 160,000 examples of clips that have been made available on YouTube and viewed 1.5 billion times without Viacom’s authorization.
Let’s imagine for a moment that this is not a negotiating tactic.
Suing YouTube is not going to alter the fact that people’s media habits have changed – people want content on-demand, they want choice and they want community served right along with it. How else could you chat with someone who loves the David Bowie/Ricky Gervais scene from Extras at 4am or 7am or anytime, anyplace? This type of interaction is no longer a novelty – in fact, it feels like a necessity but the suits appear not to get it… once again.
If YouTube were sued out of existence tomorrow, people wouldn’t suddenly flock back to their television sets. Get over it. And even if they did, hello Tivo/PVR – problem still not solved.
It seems to me that the long-term strategy for Viacom would be to a) acknowledge the lucky fact that people want their content – 1.5 billion views is a good thing; and b) imagine YouTube as the best free advertising/promotional tool out there and work with it.
Litigation didn’t work for the music industry and it won’t work for Viacom either. This is about highly-desired content and if you ask me, that’s a nice problem to have. So please, stop hurting the people who want your material (and in many cases are busily promoting it for you) and start figuring out a way to build a business model within the new structure.