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TV Networks Love-Hate Viral Video Sites

Hollywood Reporter -- the entertainment world is putting the squeeze on YouTube.com, but will it be more like a hug than a headlock? In a few short months, the Web site has emerged from the obscure ranks of dozens of online viral-video outposts to dominate even giant portals in the category, including Yahoo! and Google.

But its astonishing growth -- streaming 30 million videos a day -- also has put old-guard media empires on the defensive. NBC Universal and CBS Corp. are just a few of the power players who have clamped down on YouTube recently for hosting copyright-infringing clips snatched from broadcast airwaves.

"As the broadband digital space develops, it's important for rules of the road to be clearly established," says Richard Cotton, executive vp and general counsel at NBC Uni. However, the relationship between this Internet upstart and Hollywood isn't as adversarial as you might assume.

For every corporate lawyer firing off angry letters to YouTube, there are two more executives exploring potential partnership opportunities -- maybe even an outright acquisition. What's more, YouTube execs claim that these conflicting legal and promotional imperatives often unknowingly emanate from the same company.

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