Google's YouTube has been sued by Italian media conglomerate Mediaset for €500m (£390m) over claims that the video-sharing site illegally hosts thousands of Mediaset's video clips.
The suit, filed in civil court in Rome, names both YouTube and parent company Google. Mediaset operates television stations in Italy and Spain and produces films and TV shows. Its vice chairman, Pier Silvio Berlusconi, is the son of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is also a media tycoon.
The company claims that on June 10, there were 4,643 video clips on YouTube, totalling more than 325 hours of material, owned by Mediaset. The company believes that as a result, its three Italian TV stations have lost 315,672 viewing days. The €500m claim does not include the loss of advertising revenues from the shows.
YouTube is already grappling with a $1bn copyright lawsuit by US media giant Viacom, which similarly claims its content is offered on YouTube without permission. YouTube has said its policy is to remove infringing clips if media owners complain.
"Lawsuits like this one threaten the way people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression over the internet," YouTube said. "YouTube respects copyright holders and takes copyright issues very seriously. ... We prohibit users from uploading infringing material, and we cooperate with all copyright holders to identify and promptly remove infringing content as soon as we are officially notified."