Viacom Tells YouTube to Pull Clips

NEW YORK Viacom has issued a firm demand to YouTube, the video-sharing site, to immediately remove over 100,000 video clips featuring content from Viacom’s family of networks after the two companies failed to reach a workable content-sharing arrangement.

The clips, which Viacom said account for 1.2 billion video streams, range from short snippets to full-length episodes of shows from MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, among others.

Sources say the number of clips in question far exceeds the amount of content that Viacom asked YouTube to remove in October, when this dispute first arose.

At that time, Viacom said the Google-owned site pledged to take a far more aggressive tact in policing the site, which Viacom execs say never took place. “Filtering tools promised repeatedly by YouTube and Google have not been put in place, and they continue to host and stream vast amounts of unauthorized video,” said a Viacom representative. “YouTube and Google retain all of the revenue generated from this practice, without extending fair compensation to the people who have expended all of the effort and cost to create it.”

The issue of money, specifically YouTube’s potential for selling ads adjacent to Viacom-copyrighted material, has come more to the forefront in recent weeks, ever since Google began linking more searches to YouTube clips within Google Video, which also carries more banner advertising alongside its streams. In addition, insiders said Google and YouTube use less discretion when selling advertising than Viacom’s networks would, particularly for networks like Nickelodeon.

The hope following last October’s dustup was that YouTube and Viacom would come up with some long-term way of working together, either through limiting video content on the site to shorter, promotional snippets, or somehow sharing ad revenue.

But Viacom said subsequent negotiations have not been fruitful. “After months of ongoing discussions with YouTube and Google, it has become clear that YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement that would make Viacom content available to YouTube users,” said a rep. “Our hope is that YouTube and Google will support a fair and authorized distribution model that allows consumers to continue to enjoy our very popular content now and in the future.”