WEB 2.0 - Viacom chief jabs Google's antipiracy effort

Calls for industry standard to protect copyright material.

Viacoms president and CEO took a swipe at Google's announcement earlier this week of plans to launch a video-blocking tool aimed at allowing content owners to intercept copyrighted clips as they are uploaded to Google's video site YouTube.

Viacom's Philippe Dauman said at the Web 2.0 Summit in the US that instead of a proprietary system to block content that may infringe on copyright, there needs to be an industry standard for that type of effort.

Viacom is one of several companies that announced last week a new principle aimed at supporting filtering technology to ward off copyright violations. Viacom sued YouTube parent Google earlier this year for more than US$1 billion, alleging that YouTube infringed Viacom's copyrights by posting unauthorized video clips.

"The timing of the [Google] announcement is interesting," Dauman said. "They knew about the announcement we made today. Google is a very high quality company [with] a lot of very, very smart people. They can do things very quickly when they want to. I guess they haven't wanted to until this point."

Viacom joined with The Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal, Microsoft, CBS and other companies to endorse the new principles. Google was not among the companies to endorse the principles, which Dauman described as "rules of the road" between technology and content companies.

"They reflect the fact that there ought to be a filtering system in place on the part of technology companies," he noted. "Most responsible companies have followed that path. What no one wants is a proprietary system that benefits one company. It is a big drain to a company like ours to have to deal with incompatible systems."

Dauman also provided some behind-the-scenes Silicon Valley insight into the lawsuit it filed against Google, noting that he had many calls from Silicon Valley companies -- which he declined to name -- "who said it's about time somebody took a stand. We obviously have to protect our business just as Google or anybody else will protect what is very valuable to them. I don't see all the [Google] algorithms being shared very openly with their competitors."

The Viacom chief also outlined the company's plans going forward to grow its online businesses, which generated US$250 million last year but will pull in more than US$500 million in revenue in 2007, he noted.

Viacom will be unveiling a new Web site that will have access to all of the 13,000 clips of the The Daily Show With Jon Stewart produced since the show's inception in 1999 along with social networking features like RSS feeds and widgets, Dauman said. The company plans to make more of its content available directly to consumers in this way, he added.

"We believe in following the consumers," he said. "Our core business, our only business is creating great content. Our objective is to distribute our content and create a richer, more engaging experience for our consumers."

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