Google to Viacom: Don’t Turn YouTube into SueTube


Viacom President and CEO Philippe Daumann joined Kevin Johnson, President of Microsoft, onstage last Wednesday at the Microsoft advance ’08 client summit to discuss the Future of Search. They didn’t discuss copyright infringement or Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube. Perhaps they should have.

Google, YouTube’s owner, claims the $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit questioning YouTube’s ability to keep copyrighted material off threatens the free exchange of information on the Internet.

Google’s lawyers filed papers on Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in response to Viacom’s lawsuit alleging that the Internet has led to “an explosion of copyright infringement” by YouTube and others.

Viacom filed its lawsuit last year, asking for damages for the unauthorized viewing of programming from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks, including such hits as “The Colbert Show” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

In papers submitted to a judge late Friday, Google claimed YouTube “goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works.”

By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Google said Viacom “threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression.”

Google said YouTube was faithful to the requirements of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, saying the federal law was intended to protect companies like YouTube as long as they responded properly to content owners’ claims of infringement.

On that count, Viacom says Google has failed miserably.

The Associated Press reports that in a rewritten lawsuit filed last month, Viacom said YouTube consistently allows unauthorized copies of popular television programming and movies to be posted on its Web site and viewed tens of thousands of times.

Viacom said it had identified more than 150,000 unauthorized clips of copyrighted programming — including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “South Park” and “MTV Unplugged” episodes and the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” — that had been viewed “an astounding 1.5 billion times.”

The company said its count of unauthorized clips represents only a fraction of the content on YouTube that violates its copyrights.

It said Google and YouTube had done “little or nothing” to stop infringement.

“To the contrary, the availability on the YouTube site of a vast library of the copyrighted works of plaintiffs and others is the cornerstone of defendants’ business plan,” Viacom said.

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