Handbags at dawn in Google-Viacom dispute

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The brickbats are flying in the Google-vs-Viacom copyright case, with Google accusing Viacom of setting YouTube up.

Viacom is after $1 billion in damages from Google, claiming that Google's YouTube site illegally allowed users to upload tens of thousands of video clips from networks and movie studios that it owns.

But court documents filed by Google claim that some of the clips Viacom is complaining about were actually posted to YouTube by Viacom itself.

"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," says Zahavah Levine, YouTube chief counsel.

"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."
 
Google says it's protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects online services from copyright liability so long as they remove unauthorized content once they're told it's there.

But Viacom says Google knoew there was unauthorized content on the site, so that the Act doesn't apply.

"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," the company said in a statement.

"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'.