Fred von Lohmann at EFF has a thoughful analysis of Viacom’s stance as revealed by the public filings in their suit against YouTube. As he explains, my interpretation of their actions as rent seeking may not have been nuanced enough. Viacom admits that once YouTube implemented its Content ID system for automatically filtering out copyrighted material, their concerns with the video sharing service ended. The basis of the suit is the years prior, perhaps even some knowing inducement under that earlier management.
Fred’s take is also consistent with the increasing push to restrict the DMCA safe harbor further. It is well worth a read for that aspect alone. The safe harbor is the sole limit to have evolved out of the new rights granted under the DMCA. The potential impact on ISPs and future innovators cannot be understated if Viacom has its way. If appealed far enough, this case could have as far reaching effects, for good or ill, as the Sony and Grokster cases.