Memo to YouTube: Viacom wants its MTV. And Daily Show. And SpongeBob.
For the second time in four months, Viacom has demanded that the video-sharing site remove all content from its networks, including MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1, CMT, Spike TV and BET, an estimated 100,000 clips total, after licensing talks broke down.
"It has become clear that YouTube is unwilling to come to a fair market agreement that would make Viacom content available to YouTube users," Viacom said in a statement. "YouTube and [parent company] Google retain all of the revenue generated from this practice, without extending fair compensation to the people who have expended all of the effort and cost to create it."
Under federal law, YouTube can avoid being held legally accountable for any illicit video if it abides by such requests, which it began doing—albeit slowly—early Friday.
"We take copyright issues very seriously," YouTube said in a statement. "We prohibit users from uploading infringing material, and we cooperate with all copyright holders to identify and promptly remove infringing content as soon as we are officially notified.
"It's unfortunate that Viacom will no longer be able to benefit from YouTube's passionate audience, which has helped to promote many of Viacom's shows."
In October, at the behest of Viacom, YouTube removed thousands of videos. A few days later, after a public outcry, Viacom clarified its position and said YouTube could keep up short clips from Comedy Central shows, but not entire episodes.
That touched off negotiations between Viacom and Google, which bought YouTube last year for a whopping $1.65 billion, to work out a licensing deal to allow Viacom's copyrighted material on the Website.
However, the talks began to falter when YouTube failed to meet Viacom's Jan. 1 deadline to create filters to prevent illegal Viacom video from being viewed.
Despite YouTube's promise to remove illicit videos, as of Friday afternoon clips from Comedy Central hits like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and South Park were still viewable, as were segments from MTV's teen dating show Next, Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants and VH1's Storytellers.
Of course, Viacom's bluster comes with a whiff of gamesmanship. Last month, the company issued a press release touting Acceptable TV, a competing video-sharing site. By pressuring Google, the company may simply be angling for a better position at the bargaining table.
And although Viacom is bickering with Google and YouTube, it hasn't entirely cut business ties. MTV Networks has a revenue-sharing arrangement with Google Video to showcase clips from its channels.
While Viacom has, for the time being at least, pulled the plug on a YouTube deal, the video purveyor emphasized Friday that it will continue "to work with content partners both large and small to provide them with a platform to promote their content and engage and grow their audiences."
YouTube already has content deals with CBS, NBC, Fox, Universal Music and Warner Music. However, those arrangements aren't exactly hitch free.
Last month, Fox served YouTube with a subpoena seeking the identity of a YouTuber who allegedly posted the four-hour season debut of 24 before its network and DVD premieres. The same user also was accused of putting up a dozen episodes of Fox's Simpsons. YouTube complied with the order.