February 2, 2007 8:58 AM PST

Viacom to YouTube: Take down pirated clips

Viacom asked YouTube on Friday to remove from its video-sharing site all pirated clips from Viacom-owned television networks.

"After months of ongoing discussions with YouTube and Google, it has become clear that YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement that would make Viacom content available to YouTube users," Viacom said in a statement. "Filtering tools promised repeatedly by YouTube and Google have not been put in place, and they continue to host and stream vast amounts of unauthorized video.

"YouTube and Google retain all of the revenue generated from this practice, without extending fair compensation to the people who have expended all of the effort and cost to create it," the statement continued. "The recent addition of YouTube-served content to Google Video Search simply compounds this issue."

YouTube has subsequently agreed to remove more than 100,000 video clips produced by Viacom properties, including MTV Networks, Comedy Central, BET and VH-1, according to a YouTube statement.

"It's unfortunate that Viacom will no longer be able to benefit from YouTube's passionate audience, which has helped to promote many of Viacom's shows. We have received a DMCA takedown request from Viacom, and we will comply with their request," said YouTube's statement.

The request from Viacom follows a CNET News.com report Thursday that clips on YouTube have been appearing with advertising clips already embedded in them. An individual repeatedly posted pirated clips of copyright videos sandwiched between ads for Gawker Media Web sites. Nick Denton, the owner and founder of Gawker Media, acknowledged Friday that the person who posted those videos is a Gawker employee.

Many of the companies whose content has been pirated, including Viacom, said that they were not aware of the Gawker ad situation and would look into it.

This is not the first time YouTube has been asked to remove pirated content from a Viacom-owned property. Comedy Central has asked that YouTube remove clips from its shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report.

Many companies, such as CBS, have struck deals with YouTube and met with success, according to James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research. McQuivey said it is in companies' best interests to work with YouTube and take advantage of it as a promotional partner, and not treat it as a distribution channel.

"If this issue goes to the Supreme Court, it could take years, and eyeballs could disappear during that time. No one wants that, not even Viacom. So it's in their best interests to work it out," said McQuivey.

Video is not like the music space, where access to or a download of a free track will satisfy a person's interest in a particular copyright material and cause the creator to directly lose money, said McQuivey.

"On YouTube, if you watch a clip from The Colbert Report, you know he's going to say something funny tomorrow and you might then go watch it tomorrow on Comedy Central. You don't satisfy your urge by watching a two-minute clip. And I think Viacom knows that. They just want to be compensated for it. I don't think they are against it; they just want to make sure they have a cut," said McQuivey.

YouTube, owned by Google, has been repeatedly plagued with the issue of pirated content showing up on its site.

YouTube maintains that it will remove content at a copyright holder's request, and on its Web site instructs users that they should not post copyright content without permission from copyright holders.

The company has repeatedly said, however, that it does not control the content of its site because users are free to post content.

CNET News.com's Greg Sandoval contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
Viacom Inc., Gawker Media, YouTube, interest, request

14 comments

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Viacom but not CBS?
Since Viacom and CBS are now separate companies, I presume this
demand impacts content only on Viacom's cable networks, not CBS
Television Network programming. I believe that CBS has already
come to terms with YouTube.
Posted by CBSTV (780 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is a conundrum
I agree...copywritten material should not be resold or distributed without compensation to the rights holder. But a line has to be drawn somewhere. Viacom is crying foul because You Tube is allowing material to be replayed from their site. They (You Tube) are not actually posting the material, but in essence..they are doing Viacom a favor. If, say, a Saturday Night Live clip gains popularity, and people that have missed the original airing of the show were to watch it on You Tube...does this detract from Viacoms earnings in any way? It actually helps, as it widens the target audience, who will now maybe start tuning in. Not to mention the fact that the original viewers didnt have to pay to watch it in the first place. So to sum up, Viacom wants You Tube to pay them for the privilege of promoting their(Viacoms) content, which they don't charge for television viewers who can tune in without even a cable subscription. Seems kinda screwy. Maybe legislature should be changed to exclude publicly aired material from these witchhunt lawsuites.
Posted by NerdPatrolAJ (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I am willing to bet...
that if YouTube viewings were included by Nelson then no broadcaster would be complaining. They would be encouraging it.
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Link Flag
Charge Viacom
Why give Viacom tv shows free publicity. YouTube should charge Viacom to have clips online. If Viacom is not willing to pay AND Viacom also wants the content taken down, too bad for Viacom no more free publicity.
Posted by georgescott (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Free publicity? Give me a break.
If that were true, Microsoft would also be paying software pirates for giving them 'free publicity'. Get real.
Posted by jerrysproinger (12 comments )
Link Flag
BEST PROPOSAL YET
SOMETIMES THESE GREEDY PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEAL OF WHAT THEY ARE GETTING. CAN'T SEE THE FOREST FROM THE TREES
Posted by SgtSavage (7 comments )
Link Flag
short sighted
Viacom is being incredibly short sighted. YouTube is paying to host the material and for the bandwidth. As others have said, the material posted can only draw more people to watch the shows on their networks. I guess all of the executives over at Viacom are worried about their ability to buy solid gold toilet paper holders for the 5th house.

Just plain stupid.
Posted by befuddledms (113 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I disagree
For one thing, in order for this to be a promotional tool for Viacom, they would need some way of measuring its effectiveness. Having viewers post pirated clips makes this practically impossible.

And secondly, I seriously doubt that this has any real promotional value to Viacom.
Posted by solmajeur (6 comments )
Link Flag
Like Napster all over again
This will be very difficult for YouTube to do in a comprehensive way. I was VP of product development at Napster when the RIAA and Federal judge asked us to filter out all copyrighted music. It was difficult with music?it will be nearly impossible for video.

The problem is completeness. You can put together hashing algorithms and ?finger printing? techniques to find the obvious stuff?maybe 80% of the copyrighted content. The remaining 20% is nearly impossible to identify with precision and completeness. It will require lots of human review to get it done.

Then the users will get very clever in disguising the clips they upload with different names, tags, sample rates, lengths, fake lead ins, etc.

The judge in the Napster case demanded 100% compliance, not 90% or 95%?100%. There was no way to effectively do it so the judge just shut Napster down.

The truth is that Viacom probably couldn?t provide a 100% accurate list of their clips either.

I wrote a blog on this topic today, and anothrer on my experiences at Napster battling a similar problem with the RIAA. See <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2007/02/viacom_serves_y.html" target="_newWindow">http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2007/02/viacom_serves_y.html</a>
Posted by Don_Dodge (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So long, Viacom
Who needs ya Viacom. We don't watch your crap anyhow. We make our own crap, perhaps that's what's bothering you, you don't own it! This is 'the world', nitwits, not north America, you're out of your depth. Sack your execs for being small minded navel gazers.
Posted by garrywdm (44 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Didn't care when google didn't own...
Viacom didn't care when google didn't own...
Posted by iiswansongii (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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