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Viacom tries to reverse court loss to YouTube

updated 06:45 pm EDT, Tue October 18, 2011

Viacom insists YouTube win a threat to video

Viacom on Tuesday tried to have a New York City Second Court of Appeals overturn a dismissal of its YouTube lawsuit. The media giant didn't believe that the basic principles of safe harbor applied to Google's video site and that it should be held liable for any illegally copied video that reaches YouTube, no matter how difficult it was to detect. Attorney Paul Smith portrayed the upheld ruling as having disastrous consequences for the entire media industry, as it would lead to "vast exploitation" of content online.

"It would immunize from copyright infringement liability even avowedly piratical Internet businesses," Smith claimed. The argument has historically been shown false since safe harbor only applies to sites and companies that intend to act legally, not pirate sites.

YouTube representing lawyer Andrew Schapiro rebutted him, contending that it was the copyright owner who was most likely to know if a video was infringing. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act already let firms like Viacom shut down pirated material by making a takedown request, the attorney said.

Viacom had originally sued YouTube over claims that the streaming site was built in its early days on pirated material. While slips suggested staff knew some material would be pirated, YouTube and Google have always obeyed requests to take down disputed content and just last year said they had a faster turnaround system that would pull illegal clips within no more than a day.

The media outlet has often been one of the most conservative in accepting the move of video to the Internet and has often refused or pulled its shows from popular sites like Hulu and YouTube in hopes of steering users to its own site or to traditional TV. It remains one of the only studios that objects to iPad TV streaming despite settlements as it believes that any second use, even when it's the exact same stream that TVs receives, isn't covered by its existing TV deals.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969


    hey Viacom

    hey Viacom im of the 99% you are of the 1% go F--- yourself and die already.

  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Viacom should get out of the cave

    If Viacom wants their media to gain any serious revenue before it's all too old to care about, they need to let it get as much exposure as possible. You don't have to watch the Discovery Channel to know that limiting iPad streaming, Hulu, or YouTube access simply undermines the publicity of their content.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Too f'in bad.

    You don't arrest GM because the bank robbers used a Chevy for a getaway car. And you don't arrest YouTube because someone happened to upload a copyrighted video. Charge the criminals, not the makers of the tools they used.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Too f'in bad

    Charge the criminals, not the makers of the tools they used.

    The problem is that the copyright holders believe that posters of such material are actually criminals, as are anyone involved in the upload (Apple computer will be up next for lawsuit!), which they aren't. At best they are violating civil law, not criminal law.

    But worse is that many of the uploaded content isn't violating copyright law. You are allowed to sample and snippet and repurpose and display without requiring permission. But the Viacoms don't see it that way.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    BTW, since viacom owns comedy central, which runs the daily show and colbert report, which are both shows that happily take video clips from other broadcast media (esp. fox news and msnbc) and have no problem airing them, shouldn't they be suing themselves?

    Oh, wait, they're using it for satirical purposes, so it's OK. So all YouTube posters have to do is stick some glib commentary in the text of the video, and then they're OK!

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