June 5, 2007 7:45 PM PDT

French sports groups join suit against YouTube

France's top soccer league and its national tennis organization are the latest to join legal action against video-sharing site YouTube.

The Federation Francaise de Tennis and Ligue de Football Professionnel, as well as New York-based Cherry Lane Music Publishing, have joined a class action lawsuit that accuses YouTube and parent company Google of copyright violations, according to Louis Solomon, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the suit.

The suit was initially filed last month on behalf of the lead plaintiffs in the case: Bourne, a music publishing company and the Premier League, England's most prestigious soccer league.

YouTube, the Web's top video-sharing site, could not be reached for comment.

The company has argued in the past that a safe harbor within the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects it from being held responsible for the hundreds of clips users post daily to the site without the permission of copyright holders. Nonetheless, the number of companies willing to challenge that assertion continues to grow.

Media conglomerate Viacom filed a $1 billion copyright suit against Google in March. Robert Tur, a Los Angeles-based journalist, was the first to file copyright claims against YouTube last July.

Those that are part of the class action lawsuit are seeking unspecified damages as well as an injunction to force YouTube to change its business model, said Solomon, a partner at the firm Proskauer Rose.

"We formed a firm conclusion that on Google and YouTube there is rampant copyright infringement," Solomon said. "We think it's wrong and are eager for a judge to decide the issue."

Federation Francaise de Tennis is the group that puts on the French Open, one of the grand-slam events in tennis. The Ligue de Football Professionnel manages two of France's top professional divisions, which produced French soccer great Zinedine Zidane. Broadcasts of league matches are seen in more than 150 countries, Solomon said.

Cherry Lane owns more than 65,000 copyrights, including the publishing rights to music from Elvis, Quincy Jones, and the Black Eyed Peas.

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