Viacom Sues Google and YouTube

And during the fifth month, the lawsuits came.

Media conglomerate Viacom filed today a $1 billion lawsuit against Google and YouTube over alleged unauthorized use of the company's copyrighted video.

The complaint, filed in New York federal court, accuses Google and YouTube of "massive intentional copyright infringement" and seeks an injunction against further violations.

Viacom, which sent a takedown notice to YouTube in February for 100,000 videos, contends that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of its programming have been uploaded onto YouTube's site and viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

"YouTube's strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site," Viacom said in a statement. "Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws."

The suit comes after "a great deal of unproductive negotiation" with Google.

"We have not received the lawsuit but are confident that YouTube has respected the legal rights of copyright holders and believe the courts will agree," said Google's Steve Langdon in a prepared statement. "YouTube is great for users and offers real opportunities to rights holders: the opportunity to interact with users; to promote their content to a young and growing audience; and to tap into the online advertising market. We will certainly not let this suit become a distraction to the continuing growth and strong performance of YouTube and its ability to attract more users, more traffic and build a stronger community."

At least one company owned by Viacom, Comedy Central, has also wrangled with YouTube. In October 2006, shortly after Google purchased YouTube, Comedy Central requested that several videos be removed from the site.