By Astrid Wendlandt and William Emmanuel
The producer of "The World According to Bush" has taken legal action
against Google for distributing the film for free, becoming the latest
media company to seek compensation for lost business on the Internet.
French production house Flach Film said on Thursday it had issued a
writ against the U.S. Internet search engine and its French arm,
Google France, for copyright infringement before a Paris commercial
"The World According to Bush" is a two-hour film investigating
President George W. Bush's administration and the Bush family,
including its connections with the Bin Laden family.
In a statement, Flach Film also warned that a legal Internet video
market could not develop if such practices were allowed.
"Flach Film requests the court to sentence Google to provide
compensation for the loss resulting from these illegal acts," Flach
said, adding that it alleged Google had "not acted as a simple host
but as a fully responsible publisher."
A spokeswoman for Google France confirmed it had received a complaint
from Flach Film after which Google had removed links to the film from
"Our terms and conditions specify that users (Internet surfers) don't
have permission to use videos which they don't own the rights to," she
While online social networking and file-sharing sites such as YouTube
and MySpace enjoy strong popularity, they are also dogged by media
companies seeking compensation for downloading of their films, music
Flach said its film was accessible for free on Google Video France
through a simple click, as a stream or a download, and according to
Google's own sources, had had in excess of 43,000 hits in "a very
"We made estimates of the prejudice, and it goes well beyond 500,000
euros ($648,700). The film has been downloaded about 50,000 times, and
it has certainly been copied afterwards," Jean-Francois Lepetit,
producer of the film, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Earlier this month, Google closed its $1.65 billion acquisition of top
online video-sharing site YouTube.
At the time, Google said one-eighth of the equity, or roughly $200
million, would be held in escrow as security on certain unspecified
On November 7, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt denied that his
company had set aside $500 million to settle copyright claims by media
companies as part of its deal to acquire YouTube.
The legal action against Google comes after Universal Music Group, the
world's largest music company which is part of Vivendi, last week
filed a suit against MySpace for infringing copyrights of thousands of
its artists' works.
The lawsuit accuses News Corp.'s MySpace of allowing users to upload
videos illegally and taking part in the infringement by re-formatting
the videos to be played back or sent to others. MySpace has said its
procedures for removing illegal downloads live up to laws protecting
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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