Google-YouTube: Buyers’ Regret?

Do you think the M&A folks at Google are maybe having second thoughts about the decision to spend $1.6-billion to buy YouTube, its 21-million unique visitors a month and, unfortunately, its mountain of legal woes? Viacom is the latest content owner to jump on the legal bandwagon by suing Google for $1-billion for unauthorized use of copyrighted material. If you think about it, Chad Hurley and Steven Chen aren’t the only ones getting rich from the acquisition given a bunch of lawyers are now seeing a tsunami of bill-able hours hitting their desks.

In its lawsuit, Viacom alleges that nearly 160,000 unauthorized video clips of its content have been uploaded on YouTube and viewed more than 1.5 billion times. If you want to capture someone’s attention, $1-billion is a pretty effective way to do it – even for multi-billionaires such as Sergey Bryn and Larry Page. For more thoughts, check out IP Democracy, which is disappointed Viacom’s legal efforts aren’t focused on testing the legal weaknesses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Instead, IP Democracy describes the Viacom lawsuit as “puffy and fluffy”. Paul Kedrosky describes the lawsuit as “entertaining”, while Between the Lines suggests this is just the beginning of YouTube’s lawsuit woes.

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  • Nigel Da Costa

    Mark, I guess Mark Cuban was right when he said you would have to be a moron to buy YouTube.

  • Kevin David

    Google’s not worried. Just consider the following (as of about the time I posted this):

    Google’s market cap: $139.97 billion

    Viacom’s market cap: $27.61 billion
    CBS’ market cap: $24.38 billion (sorta kinda relevent here)

    Google buys Viacom. Lawsuit disappears. Problem solved.

  • Joseph Fiore

    Kevin’s comment reminds me of the “what me worry” slogan – yes, I’m a self-confessed MAD magazine fan :)

    If Google didn’t acquire YouTube, and missed the boat on the explosion of online video publishing and sharing, then it might well have called into question their position as The Internet authority.

    Video and other forms of multimedia content have already become a permanent fixture, and will continue to have a place in our firms space so long as people find a convenience to sharing their opinions and views through a video presentation or a photograph.

    As it stands, Google has inherited a legally volatile asset in YouTube.

    Complying to requests to remove content won’t work all the time because to some company, a second longer than it takes for Google to yank the content is a second too long.

    If they retrofit the current site with the controls to place restrictions based on copyright, ownership, etc., then it ruins the “open” participation and publishing aspect that has made YouTube such a fan favourite.

    And if the suit sticks, will we see sites like, Veoh, Dailymotion, Metacafe, iFilm and MySpace recieve the spoils from the fallout?

    Although the figure tied to the YouTube lawsuit dwarfs the AP one, the optics of the AP and Google dispute for some reasons appeared to be a much bigger cause for concern.

    And not to minimize the current case in front of them, but if for no other reason than to maintain their foothold as The Internet authority, then as Kevin has pointed out, and as we have already seen happen in the AP case, a settlement is not only well within Google’s reach, but because of how multimedia has exploded onto the online scene, we just might still be able to make some sense of the YouTube purchase.

  • http://N/A Jon

    “Google buys Viacom. Lawsuit disappears. Problem solved.”

    Not entirely true. All that it would mean is that Google would be canabalizing it’s own sales. Anyway… why would they ever buy Viacom? That company embodies everything Google isn’t.

  • Judy/JS Media

    I have a long post about this subject today. If you’re interested it’s here:

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