No one is safe from infringing on Viacom’s copyrights. Take this latest example, from BoingBoing:
Christopher Knight made three commercials as part of his campaign to run for a seat on the Rockingham County Board of Education. He posted them on YouTube. Viacom’s VH1 ran one of the commercials on its show Web Junk 2.0, without seeking Knight’s permission. Knight then posted the Web Junk 2.0 segment on YouTube. Yesterday, YouTube pulled the clip, at the request of Viacom, which said Knight was infringing on its copyright.
Infringing Viacom claims copyright infringement [BoingBoing]
Just as MTV officially debates what its “M” really stands for (front-runner: Meaningless, although a close second is Mutilation, if you have ever suffered through Scarred), as people (15 years ago) were just starting to catch on to the fact that MTV doesn’t play music anymore, not that the sound of a 16-year old’s shrieks over getting a Lexus instead of a Mercedes aren’t melodic. It was a good ploy while it lasted MTV, but you’re still totally (15 years ago) hip to the vernac of the nation’s youth, thanks to new strategic initiatives.
MTV is figuring that it’s time to take its brand into the next…7 minute commercial break, but take it there strong. That’s why MTV is using $500 million dollars of daddy Viacom’s allowance to develop video games, because that’s what those crazy kids are playing now (15 years ago). Viacom also gave younger sibling Nickelodeon $100 million to buy a Super NES and get back to them on this new craze.
The cruel irony is that there are hugely popular games on the market now (Guitar Hero, even DDR and other rhythm games) that with any ingenuity or foresight MTV should have come up with or developed cross-promotional ties with years ago, instead of just catching on last year. MTV tried to cover its late jump last year by scooping up Harmonix, makers of DDR, Guitar Hero and one of our old favorites PaRappa the Rapper. Always finding ways to keep a franchise fresh, with MTV’s help the next Guitar Hero is going to let you shred to Ryan Cabrera. Now we’re stuck with reality show fatigue, a dying channel/brand, and a forthcoming PS3 title “Attention Seeker 4: Call of Duty” where you can make your own virtual Real World audition tapes.
MTV commits $500 million to games [ValleyWag]
The deposition request lists are out for Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against Google. Viacom wants the YouTube and Google founders on the stand. Google wants to depose Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, CEO Philippe Dauman, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.
Presumably Google wants to ask whether Daily Show or Colbert Report employees uploaded videos to YouTube, as they were among the site’s most popular offerings. Will swearing to tell the whole truthiness and nothing but the truthiness get the Comedy Central stars in trouble?
If it does, it’s not going to happen for a while. The actual trial may not happen until 2009, with pre-trial measures expected to conclude in December 2008.
YouTube wants to depose Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart [c|net]
Two months ago we reported that Viacom’s executives and lawyers were in London negotiating a deal to buy LastFM, the social music network. Although the deal has still no been announced, it is still going to happen, a reliable source told DealBreaker on Friday.* The purchase price is said to be $450 million.
Viacom has been expanding its online presence, notably entering into a revenue sharing deal with the Joost video service. Our source says that the LastFM deal is part of this strategy.
* Yes, this conversation took place in a bar on Friday night. But we’re told that we talk about our nightlife an awful lot, especially on Monday mornings. So we’re experimenting with toning down some of the atmospherics and reporting these stories straight, without the allusions to popular music or references to the pursuit of women and cocktails.
LastFM’s founder refused to comment on rumors that the online music website was in negotiations to be acquired by Viacom, the blog Vecosys reported this morning. On Tuesday we reported that a well-placed source had told us that Viacom executives and lawyers were in London, where LastFM is based, to negotiate a purchase of LastFM.
Mike Butcher of Vecosys writes:
I just got off the phone to LastFM co-founder Richard Jones, who told Vecosys: “If you do a little digging there have been all sorts of rumours over the last few months none of which have turned out to be true. Our policy is not to comment on rumours.” And indeed he didn’t comment. But if this turns out to be true this would be possibly the biggest deal to come out of London for an Internet startup for several years. Stay tuned… literally
Not a confirmation but not a denial either. And our source is sticking by the story. Watch this space for updates.
LastFM on the block? [Vecosys]
You probably already know this– really, how could you not– but, to wit, Sumner Redstone is a clothes-eschewing, Greek god-emulating, attention-whoring, schoolteacher-tail chasing real estate snob, and a not-dead friend of fish.
Out back, next to the infinity pool, with its 50-mile views over downtown, is the hot tub where Redstone likes to shave—in the nude, also. Right now there’s a can of Gillette shaving cream beside it.
…down the hall is the study where he spends much of each day on the phone, surrounded by tanks of his beloved saltwater fish.
“I feel attached to them,” Redstone volunteers. “If a fish dies, it really affects me.”
The study, or “the fish room,” as Redstone calls it, is the center of his daily routine.
“I think Sumner will do anything for attention. It’s what started all this,” says Sue Mengers, the Hollywood doyenne and onetime superagent. “The consensus in the community is that what he did to Tom Cruise, and to Freston, was outrageous, you know, just to prove he’s still alive.”
Redstone says he was intrigued by the idea of meeting a schoolteacher.
Earlier that day Redstone had messengered over a packet of his press clippings [to his future wife, before their date]. Not to brag, he says: “I was trying to let her know who I was.”
Redstone was aghast at her tiny apartment, which he nicknamed “Ratland.”
Redstone’s afternoon ends after his shave, when he slips back into his robe—”so I’m not sitting in the nude, you know”—and returns to the fish room for more phone calls.
Also, Larry King? Bit of a busybody.
We were sitting with Larry King, and Larry said something like ‘What’s going on with you two?’
Sleeping with the Fishes [Vanity Fair]
The news that Google owned YouTube took down the ubiquitous Daily Show clips and other material from Comedy Central got a lot of play over the weekend. But, as TechTraderDaily noticed, it’s not at all clear that the purge is actually working. There are hundreds of Daily Show, Colbert Report and South Park clips still available on the site. So what’s going on?
One possibility, raised in this video, is that Googtube is only deleting videos that last longer than five minutes. Is there some maximum time for stolen videos? Comedy Central owner Viacom did not return our request for comment.
We’re hearing vicious unconfirmed rumors that the new head of MTV [Ed.--as in the channel] will be Mika Salmi, who is currently the CEO of Atom Entertainment (a recent MTV acquisition).** This will probably be announced Monday. Mika’s bio (from a random conference website left over from 2000):
Mika founded AtomFilms in September, 1998… Prior to launching AtomFilms, Mika was the Director of Business Development for Getty Images and PhotoDisc, Inc. where he was responsible for new business development, acquisitions, and strategic business partnerships. Prior to Getty, Mika was in charge of business development for the media and entertainment industries at RealNetworks. He also spent seven years in the music business in various international roles for both Sony and EMI, and has the distinction of discovering and signing two major artists: Nine Inch Nails and The Presidents of the USA. Mika graduated with honors and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin and earned his MBA from INSEAD in Fountainebleau, France.
UPDATE: In the “more passable” vein (fun!) Now we’re told Salmi’s promotion is a bit further down the chain. Salmi’s heading MTV (the channel) but not MTV (the entire division). [Ed.--Less interesting! Boooooo!]
** If we’re wrong, we’ll eat our blog. Or something.
Mika Salmi: CEO, Atom Films [BusinessWeek]
Keynote Bio: Mika Salmi
Apparently recently fired Viacom executive Tom Freston is still in that stage of the break-up. You know, the part where you keep saying how great a girl she was even though she just dumped you. You had so many good times together. You’ll totally always feel “passionate” about her.
Next stop is the Cole Bar in the St. Regis, and few too many cocktails. Next thing you know you’re partying with folks you barely know backstage at the Mercury lounge, coming on to actresses until their bodyguards put you back in your place and calling that bitch who dumped you a stupid slut.
Sorry. That might have been oversharing. But seriously, Tom, you’ve got to get over her. She’s moving on. Seeing other people. It’s kind of sad that you keep talking about how pretty she was. C’mon, Tom. Your romance is over.
Ousted CEO Freston still feels good about Viacom [Reuters]
Yesterday was ousted Viacom CEO Tom Freston’s last day in the office. It was, uhm, emotional. Gawker has some nice pictures up of Freston’s final stroll out the lobby of his office flanked by chanting, applauding and weeping employees. Different pictures up on the Huffington Post.
We’re sure it’s a comfort to Tom to know that he is loved by so many of his former employees. But not quite a comforting as lying down on the $60 million pile of money he’s getting as he’s pushed out the door.
The Wall Street Journal is running a piece with reactions from various analysts to the announcement today that Tom Freston was being replaced as Viacom’s CEO. Only one analyst—J.P. Morgan credit analyst Kristina Sazama—gives it a positive gloss, saying the firm views “Viacom’s leadership change [as] a modest positive for the credit.” And that’s a rather tepid endorsement. The other ten are generally negative. Top honors for the negatives goes to Rob Cox of Breakingviews.com, who writes:
“Dauman’s elevation — and the installation of another Redstone ally and former Viacom executive Tom Dooley — may give great comfort to the chairman. But it’s bad news for shareholders who, naturally, should want Viacom to attract the best managers in the industry. With Redstone’s grip intensified and on full public exhibition in the Cruise affair, only his cronies would be silly enough to take the job.”
The biggest gripe seems to be the new management’s lack of experience in entertainment. Freston was seen as the guy who built MTV. The new team is looked at as finance guys who can run numbers but might not understand the industry all that well.
Analysts React to Viacom Shakeup [Wall Street Journal]