Viacom could work with Google in future: CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Viacom Inc Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said on Thursday the entertainment company could work with Google Inc down the road, despite a $1 billion lawsuit it has filed against the Web search leader.

Philippe Dauman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom Inc., speaks at the Web. 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, October 18, 2007. REUTERS/Kimberly White

The owner of MTV and Comedy Central networks sued Google and its video sharing site YouTube in March, accusing them of benefiting from clips of Viacom shows that were uploaded by YouTube users without authorization.

Both sides have since taken steps to bolster copyright protection, but have yet to reach a compromise on the growing problem of safeguarding popular television shows and movies on the Web.

“I suspect at some point in the future we’ll work with Google,” Dauman said at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

Viacom, with Walt Disney Co, Microsoft Corp and other media companies, said on Thursday they agreed to guidelines on copyright, including blocking pirated material before it is loaded on a site for public access.

Google was absent from the pact, but its YouTube unit said earlier this week it was publicly testing a video-matching database that helps identify pirated material on the site.

It had previously tested the technology with nine media companies, including Disney and Time Warner Inc, but YouTube officials would not say if Viacom had participated.

“To the extent the ... announcement reflects a positive evolution in their thinking, I welcome it,” Dauman said of YouTube’s move.

“Google is a very high-quality company. They can do things very quickly when they want to,” he said. “I guess they haven’t wanted to until this point, but maybe they will want to in the future.”


Dauman also went a step further to say Google’s technology expertise should help build a standard platform against piracy. YouTube has said it would consider making its system available to other online video sites.

“What no one wants is a proprietary system that benefits one company to the exclusion of others,” Dauman said. “It’s a big drain for a company like ours to have to deal with incompatible systems. What about the independent producer? What’s he or she going to do?”

Viacom’s case against Google and YouTube had set a new benchmark for media companies as they tested strategies to keep the attention of viewers who are watching their favorite shows online or downloaded onto portable devices.

Viacom and many of its rivals have created new Web outlets for their programs, including an online video venture between News Corp and NBC Universal.

On Thursday, Viacom launched a Web site giving the public access to nine years’ worth of one of its most popular programs, “The Daily Show,” with comedian Jon Stewart.

The company plans to create similar formats for a lot more of its shows, Dauman said.

Viacom Class B shares closed 7 cents higher at $40.22.

Editing by Deborah Cohen, Phil Berlowitz