Media company Viacom has filed a suit against Google for what it alleges are "massive intentional copyright infringement" of the company's property.
Viacom is seeking more than $1 billion in damages and asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to place an injunction on Google and to prevent the company from sharing around 160,000 unauthorised video clips on the company's YouTube video sharing site, Viacom said in a statement.
Google was not immediately available for comment.
Viacom, which owns popular brands including MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and Nickelodeon, said its programming had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times on YouTube, the video sharing site that Google purchased in October, 2006, for $1.6 billion.
"YouTube is a significant, for-profit organisation that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others' creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google," Viacom said in a statement.
"Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws."
The suit by Viacom follows a notice from Viacom in February, 2007 under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) to remove its videos from YouTube.
Viacom alleges that Google does little to police copyright violations on YouTube. "This behaviour stands in stark contrast to the actions of other significant distributors, who have recognised the fair value of entertainment content and have concluded agreements to make content legally available to their customers around the world," the company said.
Shortly after buying YouTube in October, Google struck deals with Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group to offer music videos on YouTube and share advertising revenue. The company also negotiated with Viacom on a similar deal, but Viacom claims those negotiations were unproductive and that Google is following an "unlawful business model."
"Therefore, we must turn to the courts to prevent Google and YouTube from continuing to steal value from artists and to obtain compensation for the significant damage they have caused," Viacom said.