Viacom demanded today that Google remove the 100,000+ videos from YouTube that use Viacom's intellectual property. That would include movies from Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, and four other studios; TV clips from Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, and ten other networks; and clips taken from IFilm.com. There's a hell of a lot of Daily Show in there.
PaidContent blogger Staci Kramer quoted Viacom's demand letter at length:
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 recent addition of YouTube-served content to Google Video Search simply compounds this issue. .... Our hope is that YouTube and Google will support a fair and authorized distribution model that allows consumers to continue to enjoy our very popular content now and in the future.
One source told Kramer, "It's probably money as usual." That's the attitude Google has taken toward other legal obstacles, learning that demands such as this are just a prelude to negotiations. (This isn't the first time YouTube has pulled Viacom clips.) Bet on the search company giving Viacom a revenue-sharing deal that will keep the clips on YouTube.
This, by the way, is why Google bought YouTube last year: So it could turn legal threats like this into money-making deals, so Google becomes a de facto redistribution channel for publishers like Viacom.
What magic doth Jon Stewart have...