Andrew AlbaneseHow many people watch SpongeBob SquarePants every week? The answer depends on the definition of “watch.”

SpongeBob is just one of many television programs owned by or under license with Viacom, a global media conglomerate. The popularity of its characters is measured today not only by Nielsen ratings, but also by YouTube views – and thereby hangs a lawsuit dependent on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In March, 2007, Viacom sued YouTube owner Google for $1 billion, alleging wholesale copyright infringement. Earlier this week, the two parties settled.

“Viacom had accused YouTube and Google of building a business on material the company knew to be infringing, and they disputed Google’s claim to be a ‘safe harbor’ under the DMCA,”  Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer, tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

“Details of the settlement were not released, although the sides confirmed there was no monetary component for either side,” Albanese notes. “In a joint statement, Google and Viacom said the settlement, ‘reflects the growing collaborative dialogue’ between the two companies.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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