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.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googlecourt caseViacom

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

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?