- Associated Press - Thursday, July 15, 2010

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. (AP) - When will Google Inc. start reaping a profit from its $1.76 billion acquisition of Internet video leader YouTube?

It’s a question that seems to pop up every quarter, but Google executives still haven’t provided a clear answer nearly four years after the deal closed.

Although the mystery wasn’t resolved Thursday during Google’s second-quarter earnings call, management did reveal the company has spent $100 million defending YouTube against a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Viacom Inc., which owns MTV and Comedy Central.

Google plans to start trying to recover some of its legal costs now that a federal judge has shot down Viacom’s allegations in a ruling last month.

Although Viacom plans to appeal, Google appears to be feeling confident enough to explore new ways to sell advertising on YouTube.

At least that’s what Patrick Pichette, Google’s chief financial officer, indicated after an analyst inquired about the YouTube-Viacom dispute in Thursday’s call.

QUESTION: Does the Viacom ruling change your ability to monetize (on YouTube)?

RESPONSE: We are still in appeal, so I don’t want to comment on the specifics. What I can say is … with more clarity from this judgment, it gives us more room for experimentation that we didn’t have before. Because, until these rules are clear, you don’t know exactly where the bar is. With that clear bar, we now have much more room for experimentation.

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