YouTube Calls Out Viacom

11:15 AM YouTube claims Viacom demanded removal of videos it secretly uploaded itself

March 19, 2010

2 Min Read
YouTube Calls Out Viacom

11:15 AM -- As the three-year legal battle between YouTube Inc. and Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) rages on, some juicy details are beginning to emerge from the proceedings.

Most notable is YouTube's claim that Viacom hired 18 different marketing agencies to post its content to YouTube, after "roughing up" the videos to make them look pirated, and even sent employees to Kinko's so their posts couldn't be traced.

Court documents included this 2006 quote from a Viacom executive: "I am uploading YouTube videos under the fake grassroots account 'demansr' -- am having a phone conversation with YouTube people on Wednesday as they are already questioning my identity. Bastards."

Furthermore, YouTube claims that, in a hilarious twist, Viacom later forgot which videos it had posted and demanded the removal of its own posts from the site, only to realize its mistake later and "sheepishly ask for their reinstatement." Bastards.

"Some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself," YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine wrote in a blog post today. "Given Viacom's own actions, there is no way YouTube could ever have known which Viacom content was and was not authorized to be on the site."

Viacom, for its part, says it is only responsible for uploading "a couple hundred" of the tens of thousands originally cited in its lawsuit. Viacom general counsel Michael Fricklas called Google's claims "red herrings" and said they aren't relevant to the case.

Instead, Viacom makes the argument that YouTube encouraged the distribution of copyright-infringing content, based on internal memos and emails, such as one from co-founder Steve Chen to co-founder Jawed Karim, in which the former reprimands the latter for posting "stolen videos" on the site. (YouTube argues that this exchange was not about "supposed piracy of media content," but about viral videos.)

— Erin Barker, Digital Content Reporter, Cable Digital News

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