• 30 Aug 2007 at 1:44 PM
  • Viacom

The Pot Calling The Kettle Viacom

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]

  • 17 Aug 2007 at 1:28 PM
  • Media

MTV Continues To Be Neato, Swell, Tubular

mtv.jpg 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]

  • 15 Aug 2007 at 11:43 AM
  • Viacom

The Threatdown, On the Stand

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]

  • 19 Jul 2007 at 2:26 PM
  • Viacom

Shari Redstone Disinherits Herself

shariredstonesummer.jpgViacom heir apparent Shari Redstone is expected to leave the media conglomerate’s board after a falling out with her volatile chairman father, Sumner Redstone, the Wall Street Journal reports. In anticipation of a pending sale of all or part of the company, Viacom stock traded up 3% this morning.
The Redstone acrimony seems to be the product of disagreements on the future of Viacom’s National Amusements theater chain, which Sumner wanted to spin-off and Shari to invest further in. There is speculation that the younger Redstone may buy National Amusements upon her departure.
Earlier this year, Viacom bought out Sumner’s son Brent’s stake as part of a law suit settlement, suggesting Shari’s parting may be similar.
Despite the reports, Shari’s spokeswoman said she is not leaving the board and remains, “committed and involved.”
Shakeup at Viacom: Is It in Play? [Dealbook]
Shari Redstone Is Expected To Leave Viacom’s Board [WSJ]

  • 23 Apr 2007 at 10:01 AM
  • M&A

The Rumor Mill: LastFM Still Being Picked Up By Viacom

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.

  • 23 Feb 2007 at 9:01 AM
  • LastFM

LastFM Founder: No Comment On Viacom Acquisition Rumors

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?

  • 01 Nov 2006 at 4:00 PM
  • Summer

Redstone Swims—In The Nude—Every Afternoon.

sumnerredstone.jpgYou 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]

  • 30 Oct 2006 at 12:08 PM
  • Google

Comedy Central Versus YouTube

googtubelogo3.JPGThe 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.