Viacom courted YouTube before launching $1bn piracy lawsuit

Faced with claims that it encourages piracy, YouTube accuses its rival of sour grapes – as well as claiming it ran covert operations to upload thousands of videos to the site

American media conglomerate Viacom considered buying YouTube just months before it launched a USD 1bn piracy lawsuit against the video sharing site, according to court documents. Files released Thursday by a US court suggest that the television giant – which owns channels including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central – had considered purchasing YouTube in 2006 in what executives said could prove a “transformative acquisition”. That deal was scotched when YouTube was bought later that year by internet leviathan Google for USD 1.65bn – shortly before Viacom launched its billion-dollar lawsuit accusing YouTube of “massive intentional copyright infringement”. The claims have come to light after the US court hearing the case unsealed hundreds of documents as it prepares to make a ruling on Viacom’s claims. Lawyers have been arguing the case, which experts say could redefine the relationship between media and internet companies, behind closed doors since 2007 – but the court’s move has made the astonishing revelations from both sides public for the first time


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