Premier League Sues YouTube


This Premier League filed a lawsuit this afternoon against YouTube in a New York court alleging that “[YouTube] encourages massive copyright infringment on its Web site to generate public attention and boost traffic. This has resulted in the loss of valuable content.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that the “Defendants, which own and operate the Web site, have knowingly misappropriated and exploited this valuable property for their own gain without payment or license to the owners of the intellectual property.”

Of course, this is all about money. The Premier League feels it needs to protect its rights and keep its current rights holders content. Having highlights of Premiership football matches on YouTube is illegal, and the Premier League wants to do everything it can to control the content so it can make huge amounts of additional revenue in the future.

However, there are two schools of thought regarding videos on YouTube. Do you protect your rights and sue as Viacom also did? Or do you promote the distribution of the content on YouTube thinking that it does more good than harm?

The Premier League’s track record thus far is to sue.
You may remember that in October, a company named NetResult (who was hired by the Premier League) sent a letter (essentially a cease and desist notice) to popular web site demanding that they remove the video footage clips. However, wasn’t hosting the videos. It was, and continues to do so, just linking to clips at YouTube. The Premier League finally wised up, as witnessed today, that it needs to stop the problem at its source, which is YouTube and its owners, Google.
The decision taken by the Premier League today is shortsighted and reflective of how clueless they are about the Internet. If YouTube decides to stop showing video highlights of Premiership matches, there are tens if not hundreds of other sites that the Premier League will need to sue also. The whole viral nature of the Internet is practically impossible to govern, so instead of sueing companies, the Premier League should be embracing it. Sure, lose money in the short-term on the video highlights. But in the long term the FA Premier League could gain more revenue and a greater worldwide appeal by allowing new fans to watch the videos thereby attracing new legions of fans (and revenue).

In contrast, instead of suing YouTube, many leagues such as the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and teams such as the Premier League’s own Chelsea, have embraced YouTube and created their own channels on the web site.

On the pitch, the Premier League is ahead of the other leagues, but off the pitch and in the world of the Internet, the league is clueless.

The lawsuit is part of a class action suit filed by the Premier League and an indie music label. Their press release can be read here, and the entire class action suit document can be found here.

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  1. Blue Blooded Journo May 4, 2007
  2. Charles May 4, 2007
  3. Ahmed May 7, 2007
  4. The Gaffer May 7, 2007

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