YouTube details some of Viacom's shady practices in $1bn lawsuit

"Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there".

That's the claim of YouTube, in a new blog post, perhaps hoping to win public support in its $1billion lawsuit with the media giant.

In a lengthy blog post by Zahavah Levine, YouTube chief counsel, on the company's official blog, the video sharing site that now offers over 500 million videos has detailed what it believes is some of the murkier acts by Viacom.

"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".

Levine goes on to say:

"Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself".

The case continues.

UPDATE: Viacom has hit back with a rather dull statement in reply:

YouTube was intentionally built on infringement and there are countless internal YouTube communications demonstrating that YouTube’s founders and its employees intended to profit from that infringement. By their 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.”

Google bought YouTube because it was a haven of infringement. Google knew that YouTube’s popularity depended on infringing materials with several senior Google executives warning that YouTube was a “rogue enabler of content theft.” Instead of complying with the law, Google willfully and knowingly chose to continue YouTube’s illegal practices.

Google and YouTube had the technology to stop infringement at any time but deliberately chose not to use it. They would only offer to protect Viacom’s content if Viacom agreed to license those works, effectively holding copyright protection as ransom for a license.

The law is clear that Google and YouTube are liable for their infringement. The Supreme Court unanimously held in Grokster that a service that intends infringement is liable for that infringement. No case has ever suggested that the DMCA immunizes rampant intentional infringement of the sort Google and YouTube have engaged in.

These facts are undisputed. The statements by Google regarding Viacom activities are merely red herrings and have no relevance on the legal facts of this case.



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