Viacom Pulls Clips Off YouTube. Again.

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Looks like somebody’s getting greedy and playing hardball. Viacom just pulled clips off YouTube. Again. Viacom fans and remixers on YouTube — arguably Viacom’s most powerful viral marketers — are pissed.

Henry Blodgett hits the nail on the head: this is a negotiating tactic sacrificing long-term growth to satisfy short-term greed.

After getting stiffed in negotiations with YouTube (details, anyone?), Viacom has demanded that YouTube remove 100,000 unauthorized Viacom clips. Although this is obviously little more than another negotiating tactic (like the preposterous idea floated a few months ago about the creation of a Big Media YouTube Clone), it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

YouTube could presumably argue that, legally, it is not responsible for what individuals choose to upload (as long as its user-agreements make clear that they aren’t allowed to upload pirated clips). Unlike the file-sharing start-up of the month, moreover, YouTube has the resources to make sure that a court battle drags on for years–at which point Viacom and every other network will probably be paying YouTube for distribution rather than the other way around.

Viacom presumably knows at least the first part of this (and is presumably in denial about the “one day we’ll be paying YouTube for distribution” part). So one wonders just how far it will go to force YouTube to remove all the offending content. And in the meantime, of course, it will sacrifice all the promotion and revenue that it would have gotten had it found a way to agree to play ball.

Silly little TV executives. CBS has already proven that YouTube exposure increases TV viewership. No matter: if Viacom wants to join the fall of TV by clinging to their top-down illusions of the way online media works, let them. That just leaves more room for other people to climb the YouTube charts — and soon, make money through revenue sharing.

Remember that guy who got fired from Viacom for not buying MySpace? Somebody at Viacom needs to get fired for this YouTube deadlock.

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