Viacom to YouTube: Take down pirated clips

Complying with the demand, YouTube will remove more than 100,000 clips from the video-sharing site, Viacom says.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
3 min read
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.