Google, Viacom snarl at each other over YouTube case

They are hurling nasty accusations at each other as Viacom's lawsuit moves forward

Google and Viacom exchanged corporate unpleasantries on Thursday after the release of previously sealed documents in Viacom's three-year-old lawsuit against Google alleging copyright infringement on YouTube.

With both companies seeking a summary judgment in their favor from Judge Louis Stanton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Google and Viacom rushed to make their case before the public with strongly worded statements.

Zahavah Levine, YouTube's chief counsel, struck an apocalyptic note for all fans of online video. "YouTube and sites like it will cease to exist in their current form if Viacom and others have their way in their lawsuits against YouTube," she wrote in an official blog post.

Viacom, for its part, pulled no punches in an e-mailed statement: "Google bought YouTube because it was a haven of infringement," the statement reads. "Instead of complying with the law, Google willfully and knowingly chose to continue YouTube's illegal practices."

The spat dates back to March 2007, when Viacom slapped Google with a US$1 billion lawsuit over what it described as widespread and willful infringement of Viacom's movies, TV shows and other content on YouTube.

Google, which acquired YouTube in October 2006 for US$1.65 billion, has maintained as its defense that YouTube complies with the requirements in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to remove infringing material upon owners' requests.

Viacom's basic allegation and Google's defense remain in place, and as the judge ponders the court's next decision, the companies are trying to make each other look as bad as possible.

For example, Levine alleges that Viacom, prior to filing its lawsuit, engaged in dirty practices to bolster its case, such as secretly uploading Viacom content to YouTube and making it seem as if the actions were being undertaken by regular users.

"[Viacom] hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately 'roughed up' the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony e-mail addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom," Levine wrote.

At the same time, Viacom also uploaded some content officially because it wanted to have it there for promotional purposes, thus making it impossible for YouTube to figure out which uploads were legitimate and which weren't, according to Levine.

"The legal rule that Viacom seeks would require YouTube -- and every Web platform -- to investigate and police all content [that] users upload, and would subject those web sites to crushing liability if they get it wrong," she added.

In its statement, Viacom downplayed Google's complaints. "The statements by Google regarding Viacom activities are merely red herrings and have no relevance on the legal facts of this case," the statement reads.

Viacom paints a picture in which YouTube built its popularity through the brazen use of illegally copied and uploaded videos, an approach that didn't change after it was acquired by Google.

"Google and YouTube had the technology to stop infringement at any time but deliberately chose not to use it. They would only offer to protect Viacom's content if Viacom agreed to license those works, effectively holding copyright protection as ransom for a license," Viacom said.

Google has no right to seek shelter for YouTube under the DMCA provisions, according to Viacom. "The Supreme Court unanimously held in [MGM Studios versus Grokster] that a service that intends infringement is liable for that infringement. No case has ever suggested that the DMCA immunizes rampant intentional infringement of the sort Google and YouTube have engaged in," Viacom said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ViacomGoogleyoutube

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?