Dauman's bill of copyrights

Viacom boss: Let's end free rides

WASHINGTON -- Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman is urging American industrialists to quit their petty bickering and make the protection of intellectual property a top priority of U.S. industry and government.

Dauman, whose company is one of the world's top content producers, told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that everyone has a stake in intellectual property and that their own economic self-interest demands a better working relationship between network and media companies.

"First, let's join together in declaring that we are all in this together, and in the long run, we must depend on the preservation of strong intellectual property rights to survive and thrive," Dauman told a few hundred attendees at the first day of an anti-piracy summit hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. "And that includes network operators, search engines, site operators and device makers. They rely on great content, and great content depends on strong copyrights."

Dauman's company is one of the largest producers of TV shows, movies and other copyrighted works and is suing YouTube and its parent company, Google, for infringing on those copyrights. While Dauman was holding out an olive branch to the high-tech community, he still took a swipe at Google for "massive copyright infringement of our entertainment content."

"We are just the most visible of many copyright owners suing Google," he said. "Ironic, given Google's own reliance on its software intellectual property. Go figure. In any event, ours promises to be a landmark case that will help clarify the rights and responsibilities of all media and technology players in this digital age."

While Dauman was pushing for better cooperation from what often are the copyright industry's most formidable corporate foes, he said his company wasn't attempting to stop all unauthorized use, as he told the gathering that his company supports the fair use doctrine that allows people to use copyrighted works for scholarship, journalism, satire and criticism.

"The fact remains that people want to see what the best in the world -- Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Steven Spielberg and so many other talented artists -- can do," he said. "We support fair use, but most of the time when we find our content online on unlicensed sites, it is mostly in unmodified and uninterrupted form, and someone, somewhere is selling ads or software or otherwise getting paid for free-riding on the talent, creativity and capital of our artists and our companies."