An independent news reporter sued the popular video-sharing service YouTube Inc. for copyright infringement, claiming the Web site encouraged users to copy his protected materials.
Robert Tur, who gained fame with his helicopter-based coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and 1994 freeway chase of O.J. Simpson, filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court. It alleges the footage was posted and circulated on YouTube without his permission.
Founded last year, the free online site allows anyone to upload and download video footage.
The suit alleges Tur's images of the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the riots have been downloaded thousands of times. The practice is ruining the market for his work while attracting lucrative advertising revenue to the Web site, Tur said in an interview.
The complaint alleges that YouTube encourages infringement by allowing the easy uploading and viewing of footage.
San Mateo-based YouTube said the lawsuit was without merit. Tur's video clips were removed from the site as soon as it learned of his complaint, YouTube spokeswoman Julie Supan said in a prepared statement.
"It is our intention to work with Mr. Tur, as we work with all copyright owners, to remove any unauthorized works from our site," she added.
Supan's statement said Tur never contacted YouTube to request removal of his clips before he filed the lawsuit.
Tur's suit alleges YouTube violated a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that file-sharing companies could be held liable for deliberately encouraging or inducing customers to commit online piracy.
He is seeking $150,000 per violation and an injunction barring any further use of his material.
YouTube has gained popularity in recent months, drawing the attention of some powerful media players. NBC announced in June it would post some programming on YouTube and buy advertising on the Web site.