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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6627135.stm

YouTube facing football lawsuit

YouTube has denied copyright infringement in the past

The English Premier League is to sue video-sharing site YouTube for alleged copyright infringement.

The football organisation said YouTube had "knowingly misappropriated" its intellectual property by encouraging footage to be viewed on its site.

Google-owned YouTube already faces a $1bn (?501m) lawsuit from media giant Viacom, accusing it of illegally showing clips from its TV shows.

YouTube has denied those claims, saying the suit threatens the internet.

'Exploitation'

The English Premier League and US music publisher Bourne launched the legal action in New York, claiming unspecified damages.

They said YouTube had consciously encouraged people to view content on its site in order to raise its profile, violating the material's commercial value.

"Defendants which own and operate YouTube have knowingly misappropriated and exploited this valuable property for their own gain without payment or licence to the owners of the intellectual property," the lawsuit said.

The Premier League wants to protect its commercial value

The commercial value of the Premier League has risen spectacularly in recent years, making protection of its rights a priority for the organisation.

The combined TV, radio and internet rights to show live games and highlights over the next three years fetched ?2.7bn in a series of auctions.

Despite its huge popularity and commercial success, YouTube has attracted criticism from media organisations for the access it provides to sought-after content.

Viacom, which owns MTV and Nickelodeon, claimed that 160,000 unauthorised clips of TV shows had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

One internet expert said YouTube was coming under increasing pressure over the issue of copyright and he expected it to eventually settle with its various plaintiffs.

"There is absolutely no doubt that an awful lot of content is in breach of copyright," said media consultant Bob Eggington.

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Well, this is awkward!

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