No this doesn’t mean Mark Cuban is right


So Viacom has slapped Google (or YouTube) with a $1-billion lawsuit for blatant copyright infringement on a massive scale, according to the entertainment conglomerate’s claim. On a side note, have you ever noticed how people invariably get slapped with lawsuits? Not just hit — slapped. And a big thick lawsuit would hurt, I bet. Especially legal paper.

But seriously, is anyone surprised by this? I’m willing to admit that Viacom might have a point about a few things, such as the copies of copyrighted material that pop up right after a clip is taken down, or the inability to search for more than 1,000 clips, etc. But those are really technicalities and Viacom knows it. It doesn’t even seem to be trying to make a real case under the DMCA.

I still think that the lawsuit — which Cynthia Brumfield at IPDemocracy correctly describes as “puffy and fluffy” — is really just another case of negotiation by other means, just like the notice and takedown letter about the 100,000 clips. I would also agree with Henry “I used to be a famous Wall Street analyst” Blodget that it is unlikely to be successful.

I also think that, regardless of the merits of the case (which are not nearly as strong as Viacom’s blustering press release implies) my friend Paul Kedrosky is right, and this lawsuit is fundamentally just dumb. Not necessarily wrong in a legal sense — but still dumb.

Comments (8)

  1. Kempton wrote::

    Hi Mathew,

    Yeah, negotiation is the name of the game.

    Paul Kedrosky is right with respect to the ease of accessing of the clips. But, having the clips at individual locations do give more control to the content creator to provide a better “experience”. Lets take Fox’s “24” as an example, all the other info can be nicely packaged together with the clips. Just my 2 cents.

    – Kempton

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 3:28 am #
  2. Rob Hyndman wrote::

    At some point, all lawsuits are negotiation. If someone steals my car and I demand it back, and he refuses, and I sue him, well … Everything in the ‘sphere is making the same point, but IMO, that’s not really saying much.

    As far as Cuban is concerned, the nice part of being a Cuban Moronist is that we’ll never know – or at least folks will be able to credibly debate for the next 20 years – whether he was right. And even a Supreme Court victory for Viacom with massive damages against GooTube will still allow some folks to argue that he’s a moron (“GooTube changed the face of online video”, “right idea, wrong time, still visionary”, and so on).

    And – heh – since when does Blodget, famous for being wrong about everything, become an Oracle about anything, especially a legal outcome that even the lawyers can’t agree on (seriously, if it’s come to that – “what Henry says” – we’re all in the weeds.)

    Put it another way – Cuban is looking a lot ‘righter’ these days than Blodget has ever been. Henry’s argument boils down to (1) this will take a long time; (2) they’ll probably settle before it’s decided. Jeez, ya think? Cripes, my golden retriever told me that this morning over breakfast.


    As far as the ‘making a real case under the DMCA’ is concerned, Cynthia started that meme, as far as I can tell. All I’ll say is that we should prolly assume that Viacom had a lawyer or two look this over before they filed it. Just maybe. I think it would be a mistake to underestimate Viacom on this.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 8:13 am #
  3. Steve Guttman wrote::

    Matthew- Those things may sound like technicalities, but they really are affecting people’s behavior, and having a corresponding affect on Viacom’s audience and revenues. My 7 year old is now watching his Saturday morning cartoons on YouTube (actually on TV–thru my media center pc) without commercials or any return at all to the companies who created those shows. But, Google serves ads next to them…

    While I hate being on the side of Viacom, I can understand why it would be pissed off that someone else is monitizing their creative work.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 1:07 pm #
  4. Scott Neuman wrote::

    Viacom’s suit is just what youtube needs. Finally, lets settle this. If you as a company create a site that allows copywrite material to be displayed as per your business model, you have to be prepared to accept that you will be sued. It’s no different then the sharing services for music from years ago. Looks pretty plain and simple. Scott Neuman –

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 1:09 pm #
  5. Rob Hyndman wrote::

    Oh, and by the way, yes I do think you now hold the record for # of posts with “Cuban” in the title. Except perhaps for the cigar bloggers.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 2:57 pm #
  6. May C wrote::

    It’s practically impossible to monitor all uploaded content for copyright materials. Considering how huge YouTube is and how many users are uploading content every second, how many people would be needed to scan and monitor this? I personally believe that Viacom didn’t get the money they wanted when they were negotiating with YouTube a month or so back (YouTube changed the guaranteed revenue according to an article at WSJ) and so they decided to slap YouTube in the face, first by announcing their agreement with Joost. Then, when it wasn’t causing as big of a stir, they went with the 1B lawsuit to get YouTube back into the table. This is a sick strategy in my mind.

    Google has the money and Viacom wants a piece of it. Simple as that. But what do I know?

    Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 1:02 am #
  7. Lisa M wrote::

    I’m not surprised at all. What I am surprised about is that it took this long for someone to step up and sue.

    After all if you can take on Google and win you can influence the entire industry.

    Similar to what the music industry did to Napster. Only they won.

    This fight will be a long drawn out one.

    Don’t be surprised when MySpace has a similar type of lawsuit against them.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 1:45 am #
  8. Phil Butler wrote::

    I agree with the negotiation aspect. I am sure Viacom does not want a legal precedent set, as I mentioned in several other discussions on the subject.

    I just hope neither entity is dumb enough to take this all the way. A loss for Googe will strangle user generated video and sharing.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 7:22 pm #