Here’s the rub: Besides all the gorgeous and goofy home videos, YouTube (like other video websites) hosts plenty of pirated content.
These copyrighted music and film clips have been uploaded by YouTube members who pilfered the content from television, CDs, DVDs and other websites.
The aggrieved parties are not just the big guys, film studios like Fox or broadcasters like NBC and the BBC.
Many of the rights are owned by thousands of small independent production companies, and by individuals who want to retain control over their own products and the revenues they might generate.
Until now most copyright holders had little incentive to sue YouTube. The company was young and rapidly burning through its venture capital.