Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Viacom v. YouTube -- Painstaking Preparation for the Lawsuit

According to a pair of must read articles in today's Los Angeles Times, Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against Google's YouTube is the result of several months of failed negotiations and several months of painstaking investigation and preparation. YouTube, of course, is not alone in facing this type of litigation from content owners -- all other "traditional" online video sharing sites are directly in relevant lines of sight. But, YouTube has just a bit of money of course, and that certainly makes it a logical poster child and test case. Ultimately, expect a settlement of course -- but, make no mistake, this is a bell-weather case. And, although media reports use the $1 billion figure as the relevant number for this lawsuit, notably, a Viacom spokesperson called that number "a very conservative estimate" (the Los Angeles Times uses a figure as high as $23 billion).

Of course, "personal video" -- user generated video captured directly from web cams -- avoids all of these IP pitfalls. And, "personal video" can be uniquely compelling -- spontaneous, emotional and ... well ... personal. "Personal video" is very different from traditional online video sites such as YouTube, which the Los Angeles Times calls "perhaps the Web's largest collection of buzz-worthy TV highlights."