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By ESPN Staff

Premier League set to sue YouTube

The Premier League is to sue internet site YouTube for alleged copyright infringement, it was reported on Saturday.

The organisation said the video-sharing website had 'knowingly misappropriated' its intellectual property by encouraging footage to be viewed on its site.

Legal action was launched by the Premier League and US music publisher Bourne in the US District Court in Manhattan, New York, claiming unspecified damages.

The lawsuit seeks class action status and asks for a disgorgement of profits made by the alleged actions, as well as unspecified damages.

It claims YouTube had consciously encouraged people to view content on its site in order to raise its profile, violating the material's commercial value.

Named as defendants were YouTube Inc, YouTube LLC and YouTube's corporate parent, Google.

The lawsuit said a scheme by which website visitors could access, view, and otherwise exploit copyrighted materials without having to pay their owners made the site valuable enough for Google to pay £532 million to buy YouTube in November.

'Defendants which own and operate YouTube have knowingly misappropriated and exploited this valuable property for their own gain without payment or licence to the owners of the intellectual property,' the lawsuit said.

In a statement, Google general counsel Kent Walker defended the site, saying: 'These suits simply misunderstand the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which balances the rights of copyright holders against the need to protect internet communications and content.

'They threaten the way people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression over the internet.'

The combined TV, radio and internet rights to show live Premier League games and highlights over the next three years fetched £2.7billion in a series of auctions, making protecting its right a priority for the Premier League bosses.

Premiership games are broadcast in 204 countries to an estimated global audience of 2.59 billion.

YouTube already faces a £500million lawsuit from media giant Viacom, accusing it of illegally showing clips from its TV shows - claims which are denied.

Several media companies have reached agreements to supply YouTube with clips, including CBS, General Electric's NBC Universal and the BBC, but many others remain reluctant to deal with the site because of copyright concerns.