Google, Viacom Sling Mud in YouTube Court Fight

If you love an old-fashioned courtroom battle with a new media twist, the Google vs. Viacom copyright-infringement case makes for great entertainment. This lengthy (and particularly pissy) quarrel, which dates back to 2007, centers on Viacom's claim that Google's YouTube video-sharing site allowed users to upload more than 100,000 video clips from Viacom-owned networks and movie studios, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Pictures. Viacom's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks $1 billion in damages.

Court documents made public today by the U.S. District Court provide some fascinating insights into the behind-the-scenes machinations and allegations in the case. Google, for instance, claims that Viacom employees and its marketing partners posted "a host of clips" from Viacom TV shows movies to YouTube, even while complaining publicly about their appearance on the video site.

The documents also reveal that Viacom attempted but failed to buy YouTube in 2006. Google successfully acquired YouTube in October 2006 for $1.65 billion.

Viacom first proposed a "content-partnership agreement" with YouTube in early 2006. Negotiations continued for months, but Google bought YouTube before the partnership was complete. Viacom then switched to a "strong-arm approach" to gain a better deal, Google alleges.

Viacom's Response

In a harshly worded statement on its website, Viacom says that the unsealed court documents "provide the evidence and legal basis for Viacom's arguments that YouTube intentionally operated as a haven for massive copyright infringement."

It goes on to claim that "countless" internal YouTube communications show that YouTube planned to profit by copyright infringement: "By [YouTube's] own admission, the site contained 'truckloads' of infringing content and founder Steve Chen explained that YouTube needed to 'steal' videos because those videos make 'our traffic soar.' "

YouTube's Take

Not surprisingly, YouTube officials see things differently. In a blog post, YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine asserts that the safe harbors in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protect online services such as YouTube from copyright liability, provided the services remove unauthorized material once they're notified of its existence on their site. Levine also states that content owners (e.g., Viacom) are better equipped than service providers (YouTube) to police their copyrighted content online.

The likely outcome of the Google vs. Viacom fight? Years of courtroom maneuvers, millions in attorney fees, and ultimately a revenue-sharing agreement between the two sides. But the courtroom documents do provide a fascinating glimpse into the behind-the-scenes battles that rage when billions of dollars are at stake.

Tags GoogleViacomcourt case

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Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)

1 Comment

ferner

1

Both are as evil as each other, and especially Google. Google is an overall evil company, you can see that from the way it operates all around you. They give you a sense of false freedom and security, then study you and everything that is now clickable is fair game for revenue. They always start out by “trying to help the world” theory, then they use you and abuse you, because, they know, everybody is a consumer, and nothing else, and are there for their taking. Look at the YouTube scam, load the site with copyright stuff, get a crowd, then turn that into a bargaining chip. And another of their ways is, do whatever wrong you want now, get the crowd, and worry about the law later, and when the law tries its best to level with us, we can delay the whole law system with our money and lawyers and men in suits and even change some laws to benefit us, as money talks and we’ll have ample of it, once we can trap the crowd into the game. Let’s get illegal, garner the crowd and we’ll see what happens later. The same approach has been applied to Google maps street view and countless other goggle products. In the silicon valley, they are seen as a bully company, always on the lookout for new technologies, and as soon as they come across one, they buy it off and add it to their goliath money scamming systems, so that the ultimate scam can continue.. I have been watching them for a longggggg time, and every move is articulated at total system scam. How will it benefit us? Never the world! So they are not saints..

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