Mediaset beats YouTube in court

Broadcaster seeks damages of $730 million

Mediaset, the broadcaster controlled by Italo Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has won a major legal battle against YouTube.

A Rome court ordered the video-sharing site to remove all illicitly uploaded Mediaset content on Wednesday.

The broadcaster began legal action in July 2008 after a trawl through the YouTube site revealed 4,643 clips and 325 hours of unauthorized Mediaset material, the company said.

In his written report, judge Tommaso Marvasi referred in particular to the prevalence on YouTube of Mediaset’s Italo version of “Big Brother,” which he described as the most important reality show on Italian television. It is also the Mediaset program most viewed on the Internet.

In a statement, Mediaset said that the ruling was historic because for the first time the rights of broadcasters and program editors to their exclusive products had been fully recognized.

Mediaset is seeking damages of at least E500 million ($730 million) from YouTube and its owner Google for “illegal distribution and commercial use of audio and video files” plus compensation for the effect that the lost viewing hours has had on advertising revenues.