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Viacom to Sign Deal with Joost

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Two weeks after Viacom ordered Google to take down more than 100,000 allegedly copyrighted videos from YouTube, the media giant is about to sign a content deal with Joost, the Wall Street Journal is reporting tonight.    Joost, the P2P online television service soon to launch from the founders of Skype, is purportedly aimed to challenge traditional TV networks more than it is YouTube.  User generated content will not appear on Joost.  The company has put together a number of smaller deals, including one with Warner, but a Viacom deal would be its biggest yet.

Though near consensus opinion credits copyrighted content as the foundation of YouTube’s success, the competition may be less direct today than some might think.  Original and user generated content now plays a very important roll in making YouTube thrive.  OK Go, Lonelygirl15 and countless other YouTube-born stars have taken on a life of their own.

Viacom pulled out of an effort by major broadcast stations to build a YouTube rival in December, effectively bringing that effort to a halt.  While moving back into safer territory online (if the unlaunched Joost can be called safer) can’t be the company’s ideal solution.  Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman told the WSJ that this partnership was evidence that the company is more than willing to work with online distributors who protect their copyright.

It would be a real loss to the world if the two tiers of creativity, professional and user generated, were forever bifurcated in different distribution channels.  YouTube has signed a number of distribution deals with music studios and others, but its viability as a distribution channel for copyrighted content appears to have decreased since being acquired by Google and failing to bring to market an effective copyright protection technology.  The emergence of viable online alternatives like Joost could spell trouble for any hopes that we will soon be able to watch Beavis & Butthead and Chad Vader all in one convenient location.  

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