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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags ViacomGooglecourt case

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?