Italian media company Mediaset announced on Wednesday that it has filed a lawsuit against YouTube and owner Google, alleging that the video-sharing site distributed and exploited its commercial property.
Mediaset alleges that it found at least 4,643 copies of its programming on YouTube on June 10, when it conducted a sample survey. That programming represents approximately 325 hours of material, Mediaset claims.
The media company, as a result, alleges that its three Italian television networks have lost nearly 315,700 viewer days, which, in turn, represents lost advertising opportunities for its television programs, Mediaset alleges.
Mediaset is seeking damages of at least 500 million euros ($779 million).
Google and Mediaset were not immediately available for comment.
YouTube, however, issued a statement, according to a Reuters report:
YouTube respects copyright holders and takes copyright issues very seriously.
There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs.
In the United States, the issue of viewers bearing liability for watching copyrighted material posted to YouTube has also been raised, as noted in a blog by Surveillance State's Chris Soghoian.
In the case of Mediaset, the allegations could potentially create more of a rift than a garden-variety copyright infringement case.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi controls Mediaset, according to a Bloomberg report.