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Viacom Sues Google and YouTube, Seeking $1 Billion (Update1)

You knew this was coming! 

Viacom Sues Google and YouTube, Seeking $1 Billion (Update1)  By Ted Bunker

March 13 (Bloomberg) — Viacom Inc., owner of MTV Networks, sued Google Inc. and its YouTube online video-sharing business, seeking more than $1 billion in damages for copyright violations.

The suit, brought in federal court in New York, alleges “massive intentional” copyright infringement, Viacom said today in a statement.

The claim escalates a dispute between Google and Viacom, which has complained that YouTube users are posting video clips of Viacom shows without permission. YouTube last month agreed to remove more than 100,000 clips after the companies failed to reach an agreement on compensation for the use of the shows.

“After a great deal of unproductive negotiation and remedial efforts by ourselves and other copyright holders, YouTube continues in its unlawful business model,” Viacom said in the statement. “Therefore, we must turn to the courts.”

Viacom’s claim says almost 160,000 unauthorized snippets of Viacom shows have been viewed more than 1.5 billion times on YouTube. Viacom also owns Paramount Pictures movie studios and the Nickelodeon cable network.

Google spokesman Ricardo Reyes didn’t immediately return an e-mail or phone call placed before normal business hours.

Shares of Google fell $4.55, or 1 percent, to $450.20 at 9:32 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. They had fallen 1.2 percent this year before today. Viacom’s Class B shares fell 44 cents to $39.13.

No Choice

The suit was filed less than a week after Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said media companies will have no choice but to put their TV shows and movies on video sites such as YouTube.

“The growth of YouTube, the growth of online, is so fundamental that these companies are going to be forced to work with and in the Internet,” Schmidt said in an interview on “Conversations with Judy Woodruff” at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

News Corp. and a film distributor run by billionaire Mark Cuban both went to court to force Google to identify users who posted TV shows and films without permission on both YouTube and Google Video.

Last Updated: March 13, 2007 09:39 EDT

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