Google Counterpunches in Viacom Copyright Suit

May 1, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Google’s YouTube video-sharing site fought back against Viacom yesterday with a U.S federal court filing, denying copyright infringement claims.
Google sought protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which offers some protection to Internet service providers that host pirated content, provided they remove copyright material quickly after being requested to do so.
In March, Viacom filed a lawsuit seeking more than $1 billion in damages for alleged copyright infringement of its content on YouTube, contending that nearly 160,000 unauthorized clips of its material had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times on the site. The outcome of the case may help set the ground rules for media and Internet companies figuring out how to compete in the burgeoning Web video world.
Google yesterday argued that Viacom is overreaching with its suit.
“By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom’s complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression,” Google said in its response. “Google and YouTube respect the importance of intellectual property rights, and not only comply with their safe harbor obligations under the DMCA, but go well above and beyond what the law requires.”
Viacom said in a statement that Google’s filing incorrectly assumes that YouTube’s actions qualify for safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
“It is obvious that YouTube has knowledge of infringing material on their site and they are profiting from it,” Viacom said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Google continues to distinguish itself by failing to join the majority of major digital companies that have affirmatively embraced the legal rights of copyright holders.”
Google has said that it removes pirated content as soon as it is notified by rights holders.
At the National Association of Broadcasters Convention last month, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Google is currently testing a new set of copyright protection tools for YouTube to let content owners have more control over their content.
“If people tell us this is a licensed copy, our computers will automatically detect that it’s a legal copy or not,” Mr. Schmidt said. Google is currently testing this capability for use on YouTube with a few content partners. Within a few months, Google will introduce the new tools to everyone, he said.
As Google rolls out the additional copyright protection tools, the process will be automated and preemptive, letting Google and YouTube detect in advance when users upload unauthorized content.
(Editor: Baumann)

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