New Evidence Bad News for YouTube in Viacom Case


It appears that Google/YouTube’s Sgt. Shultz defense in it’s $1 billion copyright infringement case with Viacom might not fly. Apparently YouTube did know something as newly disclosed YouTube e-mails indicate that YouTube’s own managers knew and discussed the existence of unauthorized content on the site, and further did some of the uploading themselves. Oops!

Google’s key point of protection against Viacom’s action is the requirement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) that it was unaware of the uploading or existence of copyrighted material on its site, and when notified of such expeditiously act to remove it. Viacom and others have long been suspicious of Google’s “I know nothing” defense, and with the disclosure of these emails appear vindicated.

The revelation hasn’t left YouTube completely defenseless. It appears that Viacom’s employees were partly responsible for uploading Viacom’s copyrighted content onto YouTube. YouTube argues that if Viacom is doing the uploading how is it possible for YouTube to distinguish which material is kosher, and which isn’t. Viacom counters with The Wizard of Oz defense: “never mind that man behind the curtain,” maintaining that doesn’t really matter. It’s appears only a matter of time before the Chewbacca defense is trotted out.

Image Credit: Viacom, YouTube

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