YouTube and Viacom go toe-to-toe in public

youtube_logoZahavah Levine, YouTube's Chief Counsel has posted a blog about the spat between the company and Viacom. I say 'spat', it's more like a $1 billion lawsuit.

Basically, Viacom think that YouTube have been creaming money from them and there's a whole bunch of copyright infringement to boot.

After talking up how great and democratic they are, YouTube have said: "YouTube and sites like it will cease to exist in their current form if Viacom and others have their way in their lawsuits against YouTube."

The Viacom vs. YouTube lawsuit (which have been made public today and you can read leaked documents here), Viacom are claiming that YouTube aren't doing enough to keep their copyrighted material off the site.

YouTube argue that "all videos are automatically copyrighted from the moment they are created, regardless of who creates them. This means all videos on YouTube are copyrighted... The issue in this lawsuit is not whether a video is copyrighted, but whether it's authorized to be on the site. "

Away from all the legal gumf, the real meat of the story lies in what YouTube claim to be the dodgy practises of Viacom, stating: "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."

Of course, Viacom feel differently and claim to have correspondence from YouTube which state that: "80 percent of user traffic depended on pirated videos. He opposed removing infringing videos on the ground that 'if you remove the potential copyright infringements... site traffic and virality will drop to maybe 20 percent of what it is." You can see the 'smoking gun' emails here.

There's a lot to chew on with all this and the outcome will invariably revolve around net 'freedoms' and rights for the artist. This will get messy.


  • Lionel H.
    "Posted by Zahavah Levine, YouTube Chief Counsel" Wow, YouTube have big balls.
  • Jack
    Well its a double edged sword here, Viacom's content will be less popular, and public opinion of them will be lower, if this actually amounts to anything

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