Viacom Chief Says Google's New Copyright Protection System Isn't Enough - InformationWeek

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Viacom Chief Says Google's New Copyright Protection System Isn't Enough

YouTube and other Google properties should adopt industry guidelines for protecting proprietary content online, announced Philippe Dauman at the Web 2.0 Summit.

Philippe Dauman, chief executive of Viacom, said Thursday that the copyright protection system recently unveiled by Google's YouTube won't satisfy the entertainment conglomerate, which has filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the search company.

During questioning onstage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Dauman urged Google to join media and tech companies, including Viacom, in adopting a set of industry guidelines aimed at protecting copyrighted videos and other content online. "What no one wants is a proprietary system that benefits one company," Dauman said in answering questions from John Heilemann, author and contributing editor at New York magazine.

The guidelines announced Thursday are meant to address copyright-related issues that have arisen on sites like YouTube that depend on user-generated content. Companies supporting the principles include CBS, Dailymotion, Microsoft, NBC Universal, News Corp.'s Fox and MySpace units, Viacom, Veoh Networks, and Walt Disney, the Wall Street Journal reported. Google was noticeably absent.

YouTube launched this week a content identification system that gives copyright owners some measure of control over their content on the site. While welcoming the effort, Dauman wasn't impressed, saying YouTube had talked to Viacom about having an effective filter in place by the end of last year, but failed to deliver. "I don't think we're quite there," Dauman said of the latest YouTube effort. "I've been hearing about this coming on board for quite some time."

Viacom filed a copyright infringement lawsuit seven months ago, demanding $1 billion in damages from Google and YouTube. The suit accused the companies of "brazen disregard" for intellectual property laws and of threatening "the economic underpinnings of one of the most important sectors of the United States economy."

On Thursday, it appeared Dauman's view of the companies hadn't changed. The chief executive said Google is the kind of company that can get things done quickly when it wants to, but failed to get copyright protection technology done sooner because it apparently wasn't a high-enough priority. "We didn't want to go that route, but we had to protect our property," Dauman said of the lawsuit. "We took those steps reluctantly, because we had to."

However, Dauman said, Viacom is all about getting its entertainment content out to as many people as possible, and did not intend to shut out Google in the long term. "We work with a lot of companies, and I suspect that someday in the future we will work with Google," he said.

On other issues, Dauman said Viacom would not be interested in bidding for Facebook, if the social network was for sale. Rather than buy such companies, Viacom preferred to partner with them. "We will be in business with companies like Facebook," he said. "We will create value for them and for us along the way." Before Dauman became CEO of Viacom, the company reportedly made a bid for MySpace, but lost out to News Corp.

Dauman described Viacom's approach to the Web as "fragmented," meaning the company prefers to build hundreds of Web sites around its many TV shows, movies, and other content, using links to tie all the sites together in a huge network.

As to the creation of digital content, Dauman said all content creators at Viacom are also thinking about the Web, so every movie or TV show also has a Web strategy. On gaming on the Web, Viacom has committed to spending $500 million on development, said Dauman.

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