Viacom: We Can't Wait To Settle Google Suit

Viacom hasn’t pulled its $1 billion Google/YouTube suit out of court. But it’s doing everything it can to signal that it would really, really like to be back on YouTube soon. Last month Viacom’s chief lawyer Mike Fricklas said he really didn’t want to be in court. This week, after Google announced its plan to roll out a filtering system, Fricklas threw them a verbal bouquet. And today Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said it was just a matter of time before things get patched up. From Reuters:

Viacom Inc Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said on Thursday the entertainment company could work with Google Inc down the road, despite a pending $1 billion lawsuit it has filed against the Web search leader.

“I suspect at some point in the future we’ll work with Google,” Dauman said at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

Our take on the let’s-be-friends entreaties from Viacom brass: They’re real, and they’re deliberate — not ad-libbed. And while we don’t know what prompted Viacom to go to court in the first place, it’s easy to see why they want out: In a best-case scenario, they’re tied up in depositions and documents for years. Meanwhile their video, much of which is more-or-less designed for the Web, doesn’t appear on the Web’s biggest video site.

A handful of stories have recently noted that Fricklas and other Viacom executives have also continued to maintain that Google/YouTube has violated their copyright — thus, they argue, they’re still hankering for a fight. No. They’re just negotiating. They want money for video that Google has already shown, and they want money for video that Google will show. They just need to settle on terms.

Likewise, the fact that Viacom is pouring money into its own video verticals, like the Daily Show site launched today, doesn’t mean that the company is preparing to live without YouTube. Viacom video on YouTube and Viacom video on its owned-and-operated sites aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. It’s easy to see the benefit of flooding the Web with Colbert Report clips, while also maintaining a Colbert Report site stocked with outtakes, extras, archives, etc. Yesterday’s show, for instance, could run on the Viacom-owned site, while YouTube wouldn’t get it for another day. Or whatever: The idea is to give Viacom options and choices with its video. And it will have even more once it makes nice with Google.

Related: Viacom’s Daily Show YouTube Killer (and a Better Idea)
Viacom’s Legal YouTube Strategy: Give A Little
Viacom Lawyer: Google Case In Court By 2009

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