Company praises YouTube, disses Viacom

Google spent last week bragging about everything it’s doing to make YouTube a friendly partner for content owners, while bad-mouthing one of the very biggest such owners.

In appearances at the National Assn. of Broadcaster Conference on April 16 and the Web 2.0 Expo the following day, Google topper Eric Schmidt said his company is just weeks away from launching a service called “claim your content.”

It would allow legit copyright owners to register their videos with YouTube, which would then prevent them from being illegally uploaded. That’s a big improvement for media companies from the current system, where they have to methodically ask YouTube to take down each pirated clip after it appears.

Also last week, a YouTube video distributor said the viral video giant is close to offering content owners small and large the right to append an ad to their clips, with a revenue split of at least 50-50. This distrib noted he’d already begun posting videos with his own pre-roll advertising on the site, something YouTube formerly didn’t allow.

Though the company wouldn’t confirm the details, it fits in with earlier promises execs have made to help video producers earn money.

Google’s public appearances, especially at NAB, where VP of content partnerships David Eun also spoke, have focused on making Google appear a friendly partner rather than a threat.

Many in the media biz fear the opposite, however, especially given its recent deal to sell at least 5% of the advertising inventory on Clear Channel stations. Will Google not only rule online media, they wonder, but creep into traditional modes of distribution as well?

Schmidt and Eun assured NAB attendees they can help their slow-growth businesses earn more money by bringing in new ad dollars. But not every word for big media was kind.

Viacom, which took Google to court over allegations that its business isn’t based on helping content owners but stealing their content, was on the receiving end of some harsh words.

“With Viacom, you’re either doing a business deal with them or you’re being sued by them,” Schmidt said at NAB. At Web 2.0, he repeated his charge that the lawsuit is just a negotiating tactic.

Which goes to show that while Google may want to partner with big media congloms, it can also afford to piss one of them off.

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