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Old 31st July 2008, 06:35 PM
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Italian Firm Sues YouTube & Google July 31, 2008

Copyright infringement accusations emerged from Italy as a TV company called Mediaset lobbed a 500 million euros lawsuit at Google.

Editor's Note: Looks like Google will be fighting billion-dollar suits on both sides of the Atlantic, this time in Italy, where there is no DMCA protection to claim. The outcome is important to every webmaster because cases like these will determine whether sites are really protected from third-party content. Thoughts? Give'em here in the comments section.

Perhaps Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, sees Viacom's ongoing action against Google and YouTube a viable strategy. His firm followed in Viacom's footsteps, seeking a big payday from YouTube and its parent over allegations of copyright infringement.

Bloomberg said the case hit the courts in Rome, where Mediaset may try to make a play for supposed lost advertising revenue above and beyond the 500 million euros demanded. Mediaset claimed over 325 hours of their content hit YouTube, based on an assessment in June.

YouTube denied the allegations, pointing to its policy banning the uploading of copyrighted content, as well as its practice of taking down offending content upon notification.

That practice stems from the US DMCA provision that offers a safe harbor to websites that remove such content when instructed to by the content owner. It's a defense Viacom, and now Mediaset, will try to dismantle in the courtroom.

There is little to suggest the big content companies really recognize the shift in societal expectations now that broadband connections and easy-to-use video services exist.

People used to gossip about their favorite shows face to face. But there is always something missing from being told about a funny situation on an episode of a series as opposed to seeing it.

When someone spots a moment they think is worth sharing beyond talking about it, they head to the Internet. Content companies despise this, their fans showing such interest, and the prospect of some website profiting from that broader, unauthorized exposure of their work.

The problem sounds more like it's the media and not the masses. It's 2008, a slew of companies from software powers like Adobe and Microsoft down to the smallest of startups have ideas on making videos a profitable vehicle for ads and distribution.

But the media companies, long accustomed to getting the whole hog, don't want to settle for pieces of it even if they come from a vastly bigger animal. They want it all, fans be damned, copyright is the corporate shield, and they'll go home carried on that shield before they back off and let fans be fans.
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