Entertainment giant Viacom Media is suing web search engine Google and its video-sharing website YouTube for nearly one and a half billion dollars.
Viacom, which owns MTV and Nickelodeon, says YouTube uses its shows illegally and alleges that hundreds of thousands of unauthorised clips have been loaded onto YouTube's site.
As well as the damages, the legal action seeks an injunction to prevent what Viacom calls "massive intentional copyright infringement".
Google acquired YouTube last October for $US1.65 billion in stock - putting a lofty new value on consumer-generated media sites.
The deal combined two of the most popular internet brands: Google, synonymous with web search and rapid innovation, and YouTube, a Silicon Valley upstart that has spearheaded the video-sharing craze.
The acquisition thrust the web search leader into the emerging
market for video advertising, where it has only a tiny foothold
compared with Yahoo Inc.