Google was slammed today by a demand from Viacom to remove over 100,000 MTV, Daily Show, SouthPark BET and other copyrighted materials. This comes after months of failed negotiations between the two companies to find a way for Google to compensate Viacom for this content. According to Viacom, the clips in question have been viewed over 1 billion times.
In a prepared statement emailed to us, Viacom says:
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. 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.
Virtually every other distributor has acknowledged the fair value of entertainment content and has taken deliberate steps to concluding agreements with content providers.
Despite rumors that Google has been very close to announcing deals, to date no major network has agreed to a long term agreement to allow their content to appear on YouTube. A broad deal with CBS which was reportedly very close to being finalized, was slated to be announced at CES. That announcement never came, and insiders are questioning whether Google is simply stalling for time as they try to figure out exactly how they are willing to proceed. There are rumors that Google pulled multiple offers to Viacom, leading executives there to throw up their hands in frustration. Their statement today, along with the takedown demand, is a very tangible result of that frustration.
When Google acquired YouTube, a lot of people speculated that the popular video sharing site could suffer the same fate as Napster, with copyright holders suing it out of existence. Those speculations were silenced when Google engaged in direct negotiations with copyright holders, offering rich licensing fees and revenue sharing for content. Now, with Google yet to show a single major deal, those speculations are sure to resurface, louder than ever. The future of IPTV is still very much in play.