The Web video wars are starting to get violent. This morning, Viacom filed a lawsuit against Google-owned YouTube for copyright violations, and is seeking $1 billion in damages. Whether or not the suit has any merit, Viacom has already drawn blood. Google's stock (GOOG) is down $5 so far this morning, shaving about $1.5 billion off its market capitalization.
Some argue that Viacom's bluster is just a negotiating tactic, as it was for Universal Music. But increasingly big media companies are beginning to realize that YouTube is not the only Web video game in town. They think they can either help create their own YouTube killer or help rival Web video services challenge YouTube's dominance. At least Viacom does. It's two-pronged attack, though, won't be successful unless it can rally other media companies to adopt the same strategy.
So now the question is whether Viacom's move will prove reckless or whether it will stoke the rage of other media companies to open fire as well. At this point, the only way to kill the don of Web video would be through a massive, coordinated shoot-out.