Strange Bedfellows: Google, Paramount Ink Deal For New Digital Movie Rentals

Good news, Godfather fans — Google has just recently announced on their official YouTube blog that they’ve inked a licensing deal with Viacom-owned Paramount to bring some 500 new titles to YouTube and the Google Play store over the coming weeks.

Google first started toying with the notion of movie rentals via YouTube in early 2010, and their rental catalog has since swelled to nearly 9,000 titles. Bringing movie rentals to the Android ecosystem took a little bit more time, with the feature launching in the Android Market in May 2011. With Paramount now in tow, Google has licensing agreements with five of the six major motion picture studios, with Fox being the only big player still sitting on the sidelines.

While welcome, the news comes as a bit of surprise for a few reasons. Paramount, for example, isn’t exactly a stranger to the digital distribution game — they officially pulled back the curtains on earlier this year, which allows users to rent or purchase a number of films from their catalog.

More notable though is the contentious history between the search giant and Viacom, Paramount’s parent company. Viacom, in case you had forgotten, filed suit against Google nearly five years ago over claims of copyright infringement because users were uploading their content without permission. The case was eventually dismissed in 2010, but that wasn’t good enough for Viacom — they sought to revive the suit just last year, with one of their lawyers mentioning that the initial decision would “lead to the vast exploitation of material on the Internet.”