Viacom comes home to Joost, spelling trouble for YouTube

February 21, 2007

News:  This past month, Viacom broke off negotiations with YouTube and demanded that YouTube remove over 100,000 unauthorized clips on YouTube  — the clips contained some of Viacom’s most popular shows, like The Colbert Report and Daily Show.  Yesterday, Viacom announced a licensing deal with Joost, a new video sharing site still in the beta version.  Joost is based on a peer-to-peer model of streaming, but it won’t let users copy.  The announcement only mentions shows like “Laguna Beach” and “Road Rules,” but not The Colbert Report and Daily Show.According to the San Jose Mercury News:  “Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said YouTube was continuing to post Viacom’s films and TV shows without permission and warned that Viacom “will take whatever steps are necessary” to protect its content. He contrasted YouTube’s stance with the position of Joost’s founders, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. “They took the right approach,” Dauman said in an interview. “I think it will be a great experience for consumers.” (More here)

Analysis:  This is clearly a sign that Viacom does not like YouTube’s negotiating terms and its recent stance on filtering unauthorized content.  Without knowing more about those terms, it’s hard for me to say which side, if any, was being unreasonable.  But Viacom’s deal with Joost does signal that Viacom is ready to play hard ball.  No wonder Google is hiring more lawyers.