In an apparent display of saber-rattling aimed at nudging video Web site YouTube Inc. into cutting favorable licensing deals, a number of major media companies have banded together to explore the legal implications of the video site’s unauthorized use of copyright material, people familiar with the matter say.
The move comes just days after YouTube agreed to be acquired by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion. If the deal goes through, deep-pocketed Google could be held responsible for YouTube’s legal liabilities.
YouTube, a hugely popular video-sharing site, carries both homemade videos, as well as professionally produced video clips from television networks and movie studios — some uploaded illegally by users, and some available with the companies’ consent. YouTube contends that it hasn’t run afoul of copyright laws, because it immediately removes clips when rights holders complain about their inclusion on the site.