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YouTube User Sues Google Because He Feels He Deserves Something

A Massachusetts man claims to have applied but been rejected from YouTube's revenue-sharing Partner Program, a slight he attributes to a deliberate attempt by the video site's staff to mislead him.

Thomas Claburn

August 14, 2008

2 Min Read

Benjamin Ligeri of Rehoboth, Mass., claims to have attracted 3.5 million video views through his YouTube accounts and he believes that's worth something.

So he's suing Google, YouTube, and several members of YouTube's support staff for revenue that he believes he should have received.

"...[D]espite the traffic (and notoriety) that Plaintiff and Plaintiff's content has generated for YouTube.com, and despite hundreds to thousands of hours the Plaintiff has Labored in creating said content, generating said traffic, and managing his YouTube channels and Web pages, Plaintiff has not been paid so much as one cent by Defendants," the complaint alleges.

Ligeri claims to have applied to YouTube's revenue sharing Partner Program but was rejected, a slight he attributes to a deliberate attempt by YouTube's support staff to mislead him.

"Defendants are quite duplicitous in their dealings," the complaint states. "They induce and manipulate their account holders and prospective account holders into believing that a certain amount of work on YouTube.com will lead to their success. Defendants do so to create a frenzy of Laborers working to serve the growth of their Web sites."

To support such claims, Ligeri in the complaint points out that he "received two 'get-rich' e-mails on his Google e-mail account; one e-mail was entitled 'Living the American Dream Thanks to YouTube' and the other was entitled "Why is YouTube the next big money maker?"

What does this spam have to do with YouTube? Ligeri claims that spam campaigns tend to try to exploit ideas that have "reached mass consciousness." So, by his reasoning, YouTube's supposed campaign to promote itself as a platform for fame and fortune can be seen in the existence of spam suggesting as much.

Ligeri calculates that his daily YouTube traffic of 11,200 views represents between 1/9,000th and 1/500th of YouTube's 100 million views per day. Thus, he estimates that his traffic is worth between $200,000 and $3.6 million, based on the $1.65 billion Google paid for YouTube. He's seeking $1 million.

Such a self-valuation may be on the high side given that Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in a recent interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC, said that Google still hadn't figured out how to monetize YouTube.

In any event, Ligeri faces an uphill battle with his lawsuit. That's uphill as in trying to climb a greased pole while being kicked by Google's legal team. The problem is that Ligeri's complaint neglects to cite any provable unlawful activity on Google's part. His complaint, like his videos, has some entertainment value, but chances are Ligeri won't get paid so much as one cent for his work.

This article was edited on Aug. 18 to correct the spelling of Mr. Ligeri's name.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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