Regular readers of this blog know that I’m generally in favor of businesses being able to work out deals instead of suing each other. In YouTube’s case, I was happy to see it avoid lawsuits while it secured partnership deals with Sony, Universal Music, CBS, BBC, NBC, NBA, NHL, and others.
Now that YouTube faces 3 copyright lawsuits (Tur, Viacom, Engligh Premier League/Bourne), I am growing less optimistic that a business deal can resolve these disputes. A settlement won’t prevent someone else from suing, and, now that the door’s been opened, other copycat lawsuits may follow. (Ironically, copyright lawyers can freely copy the factual allegations in the earlier filed court pleadings.) Sure, Google’s got a lot of money, but I don’t think it wants to keep scuttling back to court over every unauthorized clip that surfaces on YouTube that someone complains about. Google is probably not one that caves in easily. When you are worth over $150 billion, you don’t have to. These cases could have been disastrous for YouTube, if Google hadn’t acquired it last October. Now they may just be the cost of doing business in this new online video market.
And even if YouTube could settle with one of the plaintiffs, there’s no guarantee that the another one of the plaintiffs wouldn’t just hold out and try to win either on principle (maybe Robert Tur?) or for the hopes of winning big bucks (the proposed class action by Engligh Premier League).
So will YouTube settle? It’s very unlikely, now.