Google and Viacom Finally Bury the Hatchet

Lengthy appeals process ends

After years of in-court bickering and appeals overturning appeals, Google and Viacom have finally decided to end their lengthy legal squabble over more than 150,000 clips on YouTube of everything from SpongeBob SquarePants (from Viacom's kids network Nickelodeon) to The Daily Show (Comedy Central).

The source of the sudden change of heart? "This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together," said Viacom in a statement, which suggests that it might be wise to keep an eye on this year's Google BrandCast for a lucrative Viacom partnership.

How convoluted was the case before it finally kicked the bucket? Well, the most recent permutation stemmed from a 2010 in-court squabble that ended in summary judgment in Google's favor (the case took three years to actually make it to court). Viacom filed an appeal and the judgment was overturned; when the case went back before the District Court judge (Louis Stanton) who'd heard the original case, he hadn't changed his mind and issued a summary judgment again. Viacom appealed again.

One source close to the situation said that "[Viacom's] demos and [YouTube's] users are in many cases the same people." 

The timing couldn't be better: Viacom's next court date was next week.