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Viacom Files $1 Bln Lawsuit Against Google and YouTube

Will video sharing come to an end?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Media conglomerate Viacom Inc. said on Tuesday it filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google Inc. and its Internet video sharing site YouTube over unauthorized use of its copyrighted entertainment.

The suit accuses Web search leader Google and YouTube of "massive intentional copyright infringement" of Viacom's entertainment assets and seeks an injunction against further violations.

Viacom contends that almost 160,000 unauthorized clips of its programming have been uploaded onto YouTube's site and viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

But these videos didn't upload themselves. If Viacom successfully sues Google and YouTube, the company may go after the individual people who uploaded the videos and then to those who downloaded them as well.

Comments (8)

Isn't there a safe harbor i... (Below threshold)

Isn't there a safe harbor in the copyright law about others putting up copyright material on your site.

If I go and paste someone's coyrighted material into the comment, should wizbang be sued? And how do you know I haven't already pasted some copyrighted work in this comment?

Me thinks that the dems would do better to look into the whole intellectual property rights issues than trying to find yet another way to look foolish trying to get the US out of Iraq.

Yes, there is a safe harbor... (Below threshold)

Yes, there is a safe harbor provision. But in order to qualify for it you have to be strictly a hosting company and not provide editorial control.

It's not clear to me that Gootube qualifies, because of 2 things.

1 - they take down porn virtually instantly.
2 - they take down other content that they deem 'objectionable', including some political and religious videos.

Once they start doing that they don't qualify. Now, they probably get away with #1 under the law, but not #2.

Mark Cuban's written fairly extensively about this on his blog. For example, most recently:


To many persons videos are ... (Below threshold)

To many persons videos are merely news, but to the copyright holder they are seen as intellectual property. Congress and the courts need to better clarify what is only seen as a link to interesting content and what is seen as illegally distributing content that one does not own.

Skip,Your explinat... (Below threshold)


Your explination makes sense. Like property law, if you don't know (or should have known) there is a hole in your property, then it is the fault of the person who falls into the hole. But when you know (or should have known) there was a whole, you suddenly have a duty to warn or make safe. So with content if you aggressively police for one kind of content, it becomes a question of cost and motivation as to why you aren't policing for other content. While it would be human nature for youtube to want to keep out items contrary to its business model and let in stuff that bolsters its business model, of such is not the law or life in general.

And while the original youtube didn't have the deep pockets, the new improved google youtube has some of the deepest pockets in the country. The lawyers shall become fat.

We have gone far afield fro... (Below threshold)

We have gone far afield from the intent of copyright protection, which the United States pioneered. The purpose was to give authors and artists control over their work for a LIMITED time in order to bring MORE work into the public domain.

Intellectual property theft was so rampant before our Constitution that most significant works were published privately and available only to "subscribers" - who paid in advance. The average person in England had no way to get access to the work of writers like Wordsworth, for example, because it was not in the public domain. Rich patrons sponsored poets and artists and enjoyed their work exclusively.

Now, instead of a limited period of rights, political donations from Disney "earn" the property rights to a cartoon mouse for 75 years AFTER the author's death. Ridiculous, unnecessary, and counterproductive to the purpose of granting "intellectual property rights" in the first place.

Still, Viacom, like the RIAA, is adopting a strange tactic here. The clips on YouTube aren't generally of high quality. If anything, they probably generate more business than they take away. Suing the consumers is the next step - like RIAA.

What a business model that is! Sue your customers! Great PR . . .

Wanna bet that Viacom will ... (Below threshold)

Wanna bet that Viacom will settle out of court, licence their property and get in return a big slice of Google?

Google has the resources to... (Below threshold)

Google has the resources to fight back, and I hope they do. This appears to be another example of the suits throwing lawsuits around to scare people.

Make them go to court and prove their economic damages resulting from Google allowing a 15 year old to post a ripped clip, and maybe we'll have a landmark case which can used for some meaningful copyright reform.

OK, I hadn't actually looke... (Below threshold)

OK, I hadn't actually looked into the specifics, but here's a copy of the actual law:


It's the stuff in 5.12c(1) that's at issue I think. In particular Viacom is alleging that they don't qualify for the safe harbor because they make money off of the content.

And it's obvious that they do make money off of it - they sell advertising. Now, doing some quick searches it didn't seem like they were doing targeted advertising, but they're definitely making money off of it. So this is going to be an interesting test case of the DMCA.






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