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 PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ViacomGooglecourt case

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.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

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?