UPDATE: Mediaset Files EUR500 Million Suit Vs Google's YouTube
Dow Jones

(Adds YouTube comment, background, detail.)

By Giada Zampano and Liam Moloney


ROME -(Dow Jones)- Mediaset SpA (MS.MI), Italy's largest private broadcaster, said Wednesday it has filed a lawsuit for at least EUR500 million against Google Inc.'s (GOOG) YouTube for the unlawful use of the Italian company's audio and video files.

Mediaset's legal action is the latest in a string of other copyright and trademark lawsuits, which analysts see as eventually weighing on Google's earnings.

In a statement, Mediaset said it filed the suit against Google and its video- sharing unit YouTube in a Rome court.

The Milan-based company, owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said it is seeking at least EUR500 million in damages and will also seek compensation for missed advertising revenue due to unauthorized use of its files.

Mediaset rose on the news, and by 1354 GMT they were up 3.5% at EUR4.73, outperforming a slightly positive overall market.

Mediaset said it found "at least 4,643 videos and clips owned by us, equivalent to more than 325 hours of transmission without having rights" on YouTube in a simple analysis June 10.

It said this was equal to the loss of 315,672 days of broadcasting on its three TV channels.

YouTube said Wednesday it respected copyright holders and didn't see any need for the legal case launched by Mediaset.

"YouTube respects copyright holders and takes copyright issues very seriously, " said a company spokesperson. "There is no need for legal action and all the associated costs."

Google and Viacom Inc. (VIA) earlier this month agreed to let Google make YouTube visitor data anonymous before complying with a judge's order to deliver the data to Viacom as part of a broader copyright lawsuit.

Viacom has sued YouTube for $1 billion, alleging that YouTube users have posted clips from Viacom-owned cable-TV networks including MTV and Comedy Central without authorization. Google has denied any wrongdoing.

Viacom and its copyright lawsuit against YouTube might have spoiled Google earnings show, observers say. Google's second-quarter earnings fell short of Wall Street estimates and most observers blamed the miss on the swooning economy or a shortfall in the company's interest income.

But some analysts noted higher legal costs could affect Google's earnings for some time to come.

Company Web site: www.mediaset.it

-By Giada Zampano and Liam Moloney, Dow Jones Newswires; +39 06 6976 6924; liam.moloney@dowjones.com

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  07-30-08 1025ET
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