Viacom, the giant owner of video content, has sued YouTube and Google for “massive intentional copyright infringement” of Viacom’s properties.

It is one of the biggest challenges yet to what content owners say is a foot-dragging policy by Google when it comes to respecting copyrights.

The suit seeks more than $1 billion in damages, as well as an injunction prohibiting Google and its property, YouTube, from further copyright infringement. The complaint says almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom’s programming have been available on YouTube and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

google.jpgThe suit is significant because it puts significant pressure on Google to either comply quickly or fight the challenge in court. By fighting, Google could argue that YouTube’s current policy, of taking down video only after it gets complaints from owners, is compatible with the law.

Viacom continues to strike deals with other players, such as Joost, to allow them to license Viacom’s content. Google has said it will soon introduce filtering technology to avoid pirated videos from being submitted at YouTube, but it has yet to do so.

The longer it waits, the bigger YouTube’s lead appears to get in the video sharing industry.

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