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Viacom hopes Google's book settlement teaches it a lesson

The two companies continue to blast away at each other in the press, with Viacom pointing to Google's settlement with book publishers and Google taking aim at Viacom's copyright tactics.

As their case grinds away in the courts, Google and Viacom continue to take shots at each other.

Google's announcement that it has paid $125 million to settle two copyright lawsuits brought by book publishers and authors is welcome news to Viacom and other copyright owners. Viacom, the behemoth entertainment company that filed a $1 billion copyright lawsuit against Google and YouTube last year, took the opportunity to compare the book publishers' case with its own.

"Copyright laws provide creators with the incentive to create the works consumers crave," Viacom said in a statement Tuesday. "It is unfortunate that the publishers had to spend years, and millions of dollars, for Google to honor that principle. We hope that Google avoids the wasted effort and comes more quickly to respect movies and television programming."

As my co-worker wrote earlier, Google is digitizing the works from many major libraries, including the New York Public Library and the libraries at Stanford and Harvard universities, and is making those texts searchable on pages with advertisements. The Authors Guild, which represents more than 8,000 authors, sued Google in September 2005, alleging that the company's digitizing initiative amounted to "massive" copyright infringement. Five large publishers filed a separate lawsuit as representatives of the Association of American Publishers.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google has agreed to pay the authors and publishers $125 million. It will also be responsible for selling access to copyrighted works in its repository. Most of the revenues from such access would go to the authors and publishers.

On the other side, Google accused Viacom last week of trying to undermine its compliance efforts and wants the judge overseeing the case to help it retrieve documents that will prove that, according to a story in MarketWatch. Google alleges that Viacom hired BayTSP, a so-called copyright cop and instructed the company not to send take-down notices for infringing activity for months in an attempt to "overwhelm YouTube."

Google has long tried to prove that it's easier for Viacom to search YouTube for pirated content than it is for YouTube.