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Google today revealed that it has evidence that Viacom purposefully uploaded many of the copyrighted clips it is suing YouTube over, such as clips from Comedy Central shows like South Park. If the stunning allegation holds true, it could spell doom for Viacom's $1B USD suit against the site.  (Source: YouTube)
Claims could have a big impact on $1B USD suit against YouTube

Google dropped a bombshell today. It claims that Viacom, who is currently suing its video sharing site YouTube, knowingly and purposefully promoted the uploading of Viacom's copyrighted works to the site, trying to make them look like pirated copies.

Viacom's suit against YouTube has been smoldering in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York since March 2007.  After Viacom failed in multiple bids to acquire the video sharing site, it filed suit seeking $1B USD in damages from YouTube's current owner, internet mogul Google.  Viacom accuses YouTube of allowing 160,000 infringed video clips to be posted.

As the opening briefs of the case were just unsealed and released to the public today, Google has posted a blog blasting Viacom and saying that the lawsuit threatens the future of the internet.

Writes Google:

With some minor exceptions, all videos are automatically copyrighted from the moment they are created, regardless of who creates them. This means all videos on YouTube are copyrighted -- from Charlie Bit My Finger, to the video of your cat playing the piano and the video you took at your cousin’s wedding. The issue in this lawsuit is not whether a video is copyrighted, but whether it's authorized to be on the site. The DMCA (and common sense) recognizes that content owners, not service providers like YouTube, are in the best position to know whether a specific video is authorized to be on an Internet hosting service.

Google is referring to the fact that current copyright interpretation is that you in effect have a copyright as soon as you create content.

Google also reveals that it is confident it has evidence to prove that Viacom was secretly uploading videos to YouTube to promote programming on its TV networks like Comedy Central and BET.  Writes Google:

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately "roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt "very strongly" that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

If Google can indeed prove this, it could be Google's own "smoking gun".  Viacom's so-called "smoking gun" piece of evidence in the case came in October of last year when it unearthed YouTube emails in which the site co-founder Chad Hurley chastises co-founder Jawed Karim for uploading copyrighted video.  He writes:

jawed (Karim), please stop putting stolen videos on the site. We're going to have a tough time defending the fact that we're not liable for the copyrighted material on the site because we didn't put it up when one of the co-founders is blatantly stealing content from other sites and trying to get everyone to see it.

That email was extremely significant as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act only extends "Safe Harbor" provisions to internet content sites if they don't know infringement is occurring on their site and remove infringed works when they are brought to their intention.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) 17 U.S.C. §512(c)(1)(A) states that a service provider cannot be held liable for infringing material uploaded to their site as long as:

  1. The services do not have actual knowledge that the material, or an activity using the material on the system or network, is infringing;

  2. In the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent; or

  3. Upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material.

The YouTube emails certainly damaged Google's case.  However, if it can prove its big claims about Viacom, it could well have a victory on its hands.  The site does seem to have current precedent in its favor -- in September 2009, much smaller video site Veoh won in a court case brought by Universal Music Group.  Veoh's victory came thanks to applying the "Safe Harbor" defense.

The case is critical as the amount Viacom is seeking is almost as much as the purchase price of the site itself.  Google paid $1.65B USD to acquire YouTube in October 2006, about a year and a half after the first video was uploaded to the site on April 23, 2005.  The site still struggles with profitability -- its daily bandwidth expenses alone are over $1M USD, and it's trying to transition to high-definition offerings.  

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RE: Google's view
By Reclaimer77 on 3/19/2010 7:16:42 PM , Rating: 5
Indeed. People should police themselvesw and refrain from illegal activity.

Yes people like Viacom and the RIAA who break laws to try and prove that others broke the same law on a daily basis. It's hypocritical, entrapment, and illegal. Not to mention damn unethical.

RE: Google's view
By porkpie on 3/20/2010 12:36:06 AM , Rating: 1
What law do you believe Viacom broke? Even if we take Google's version of events at face value, Viacom can't infringe on their own works. There's a vast difference between unethical and illegal.

RE: Google's view
By Reclaimer77 on 3/20/2010 1:47:24 AM , Rating: 5
You're joking right ? I'm no legal expert, but I'm pretty sure the courts would frown on you knowingly uploading IP, then suing for it being uploaded. You have GOT to be kidding me if you think this is how they can play it and win.

Viacom can't infringe on their own works.

A legal technicality that no jury would respect. It's the same as saying a museum director can hide a priceless painting and claim it was stolen.

So you are in favor of slapping billion dollar lawsuits on Google, and just to make sure you win, uploading content yourself so you can prove that same content is being infringed upon ? I just want to be clear where you stand here.

RE: Google's view
By porkpie on 3/20/2010 11:15:59 AM , Rating: 2
"I'm no legal expert, but I'm pretty sure the courts would frown on you knowingly uploading IP..."

It would certainly prejudice their civil suit. That in no way, shape, or form, implies a criminal act, however. It doesn't take much of a "legal expert" to know the difference.

"So you are in favor of slapping billion dollar lawsuits on Google"

Your inability to comprehend plain English is rapidly becoming tiresome. Where did I say I was in favor of this suit?

RE: Google's view
By Reclaimer77 on 3/20/2010 12:11:39 PM , Rating: 2
Your inability to comprehend plain English is rapidly becoming tiresome. Where did I say I was in favor of this suit?

Your inability to clearly define your position is equally tiresome. If you have a side, take it. If you are just playing devils advocate with me, go jerk around someone else please. I'm not here to explore every option of every topic with you.

RE: Google's view
By porkpie on 3/20/2010 1:59:18 PM , Rating: 2
In the phrase "there's a vast difference between unethical and illegal", which word was too complex for you?

For anyone able to comprehend words of more than a single syllable, my post clearly indicates that these alleged acts of Viacom's acts are unethical, but not illegal.

In a fit of school-girlish histrionics, you somehow managed to interpret that as supporting the suit. And when corrected, you lash out peevishly at others for your own mistake.

A poor show, sir, a very poor show.

RE: Google's view
By whiskerwill on 3/20/2010 4:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
Gotta love seeing Reclaimer getting beat up on, especially when he deserves it so.

RE: Google's view
By Reclaimer77 on 3/21/2010 11:59:26 AM , Rating: 2
Gotta love seeing Reclaimer getting beat up on, especially when he deserves it so.

Hardly. This is another example of some anal retentive poster passing up the major point to quibble on a technicality or something that would have been edited already had we the ability. Instead of discussing the bigger picture, Porkie has ignored the real crux of the issue to focus on some obscure difference between legality and morality.

Ok, so because I put one sentence together poorly, my whole argument is thrown out ? Porkie seems to think so.

RE: Google's view
By porkpie on 3/21/2010 3:20:54 PM , Rating: 1
So claiming Viacom broke the law was just a slip of the finger...even though you defended it across three separate posts? Honestly, even a liberal has more intellectual honesty than this. I really expected more from you in the way of backbone.

The difference between an act that is immoral and one that is illegal is not "a technicality". Lying to your mum is immoral. Knifing someone to death on a street corner is illegal.

Simply put, your first bombastic bedwetting post had a hole poked in it, and rather than maturely admitting you overstated your case, you threw a pubescent tantrum.

As for your "whole argument", that seems to be no more than "Since I hate any member of the MPAA, I'll believe any accusation against them, with or without proof".

RE: Google's view
By sxr7171 on 3/22/2010 11:30:37 PM , Rating: 1
These big corporations are not your friend, the sooner you understand that the smarter you will be. If there wasn't piracy of music your ass would be paying $25 a CD by now. Either that or you just listen to the shit on the radio all day which is a running 24 advertisement. Sometimes where government fails to regulate monopolistic corporations thankfully technology allows us our own check on the injustices these corporations would surely inflict upon you.

If this is difficult for you to understand, just go watch District 9. They've made it easy to understand.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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