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May 1, 2007

Google Responds to Viacom

Google responds to Viacom's lawsuit against YouTube in documents filed in court on Monday.  The search giant says that the company complies with all laws, including the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.  YouTube takes down videos upon notice, gives copyright owners tools in helping identify their intellectual property, and revokes uploading privileges for members who have been notified twice of infringing activity.  They also say that the suit threatens the legitimate activity of web users given the law as written by Congress. 

Viacom has a different point of view.  They claim, as they have from the beginning that YouTube's model prevents it from falling in the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.  Of course, that's the rub.  Congress passed the DMCA in the late 90s confident that it brought the copyright laws into the 21st century.  Maybe at that point, but as we all know, technology changes so much that no one could anticipate the level of commercialization compared to the functionality computers could offer. 

It's not as if video online didn't exist at the time the act passed.  Amateur clips were crummy compared to professional releases because the consumer equipment to make them was limited and the software was just as bad.  Now anyone can afford a cheap Dazzle or the equivalent, and using the software built into Windows and OS X can produce some acceptable quality stuff.  Whole business models have been built around the...oh wait, that's YouTube, and every other video site that accepts member uploads.

Viacom can harrumph that the law doesn't apply while Google can sanctimoniously say that it does.  But no one can know what a judge is going to do with it because it can go either way.  Congress will likely revisit the DMCA no matter who wins, and that will open up another can of worms when they try to strike a balance between traditional rights of consumers and content companies.  It will be a good time to be a media lobbyist.

Viacom's complaint is here.  The YouTube response is here.  Articles are in the worlds:  TechNewsWorld, PC World, and ComputerWorld.

May 1, 2007 | Permalink

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