Viacom v Google: Threat to the Net -- or just Google?

Viacom v Google: Threat to the Net -- or just Google?

Summary: The re-do of Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against Google for alleged infringement of copyright on YouTube is moving forward as Google filed an answer to Viacom's redrafted complaint. The original suit was filed last year but Viacom re-filed the complaint last month.

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The re-do of Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against Google for alleged infringement of copyright on YouTube is moving forward as Google filed an answer to Viacom's redrafted complaint. The original suit was filed last year but Viacom re-filed the complaint last month. Based on the information in this AP story, I'm guessing Google pretty much re-stated its language from its original answer. To wit:

Viacom's complaint in this action challenges the careful balance established by Congress when it enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA balances the rights of copyright holders and the need to protect the internet as an important new form of communication. By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for internet communications, Viacom's complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimatelyexchange information, news, entertainment, and politicaland artistic expression. Google and YouTube respect the importance of intellectual property rights, and not only comply with their safeharbor obligations under the DMCA, but go well above and beyond what the law requires.

Over at TechDirt, Mike Masnick thinks the conflict is indicative of a larger disconnect: applying content-oriented laws to a communication medium. (via Mashable)

Media companies still look on the internet as a content platform. That is, they think of it as a new broadcast medium. Most other folks recognize that the internet is a communications medium, and the focus should be on the ease of communication. That's a problem for anyone who comes from a world of broadcast media, and it creates all sorts of problems for copyright law that is designed mainly to protect a broadcast-style media. Yet, when it comes to communication, the idea of using copyright to restrict content gets weird in a hurry.
It's clear that some percentage of YouTube content is pure competition to licensed broadcasters, but as Mike says, the majority -- and by far the more important use -- is to use shared cultural references and content to parody, celebrate, reference and add individual creativity. This is reminiscent of Larry Lessig's keynote speeches from the early 21st century -- that an entire generation that communicates postmodernly is being cut off at the knees by inflexible enforcement of the letter of copyright law. We can have copyright for its real purpose -- and still allow people to use their favority songs as soundtracks to videos of their kids and dogs. The content owners may want a license fee for everything. Or they may just fear if they let personal use go by they will waive their rights against true transgressors. The onus right now is on the courts to fashion more flexible interpretations of law that reflect this communication-usage of content. Lessig championed this cause for a decade without a huge amount of success. Now that Google and the other majors have a vested stake in defending those rights, perhaps we'll get more reasonable rules -- either from the courts or Congress -- out of this conflict. Funny how the law works.

Topics: Hardware, Browser, Google, Mobility

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  • I just want a good source of non copy righted material.

    Okay I said it once but I do need a good source of open source music I can use that doesn't cost 59.95 for a power point presentation to show at school or put on a CD by a class of eighth grades.
    deowll
  • The full answer

    Via <a href="http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/">Recording Industry v the People</a>, here's the actual answer to Viacom's revised complaint:

    ***
    Viacom???s lawsuit challenges the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") that Congress enacted a decade ago to encourage the development of services like YouTube. Congress recognized that such services could not and would not exist if they faced liability for copyright infringement based on materials users uploaded to their services. It chose to immunize these services from copyright liability provided they are properly responsive to notices of alleged infringement from content owners.

    Looking at the online world today, there is no question that Congress made the correct policy choice. Legitimate services like YouTube provide the world with free and authorized access to extraordinary libraries of information that would not be available without the DMCA -- information created by users who have every right to share it. YouTube fulfills Congress???s vision for the DMCA. YouTube also fulfills its end of the DMCA bargain, and indeed goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works. 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.
    rkoman@...
  • RE: Viacom v Google: Threat to the Net -- or just Google?

    We need to step back before we can move forward. The DCMA is imperfect at best as a guide to dealing with content vs communication issues. So many issues are involved that a letter of the law interpretation will only make things worse and create disrespect for copyright law.

    Among the issues on the table are fair use, whether material is sold or leased (first ownership rules) and the what copyright law is supposed to do.

    Media mashups and use of some copyright material are now an international phenomenon. No US court or media money is going to squash this worldwide.

    Media purchased looks like a sale, sounds like sale and acts like a sale. To use the duck analogy, if it is equivalent to a duck then it is a duck. At this time Microsoft and others are talking about leasing their software at fixed annual prices as part of software as a service. Well if that is a lease then what is it when someone pays a fixed amount of money for a copy of software that they can use indefinitely. It looks like a sale, sounds like a sale and acts like a sale. If both are lease/rentals then why are two distinct transactions given the same name.

    Finally, copyright and patent law is designed to stimulate artistic creation and the economy. Their protection is meant to be partial in order to let creators profit from their inventions. The media companies don't invent anything. Their role is like patent trolls, owning and exploiting intellectual property. Most artists don't like the contracts they get from the media companies any more than users like the deals they get from media companies. The courts are put in the position of trying to hold back the waves of change.

    A forward looking and reasonable copyright regime would encourage compliance with the law and ultimately benefit the economy and the artists. Clever business people can facilitate creation and distribution by adding value.

    As with most things impacted by the internet's disintermediation, the middle man has to change or suffer. The government will need to carry an increasing burden trying to enforce laws that no longer make sense to majority of the people. This is a good time to set things right. The DMCA has been denounced by the Clinton administration official most responsible for pushing it through Congress and is acknowledged to be imbalanced and have many flaws. This is a good time to set things right
    jdubow@...
  • RE: Viacom v Google: Threat to the Net -- or just Google?

    I agree with Viacom.
    90% of all video uploads to youtube and google contain some element of copyrighted material.

    People who upload should rely on their own personal skills and talents, not those of already published authors.
    Even the background music to such videos should be composed by the uploader.
    If any aspect of the video contains copyrighted material(s), how could you consider it your own creation?
    I hope Viacom kicks youtube and googles butts.
    I think they will.
    Thozman
  • Youtube samples have led to many personal purchases.

    As the American economy heads towards inevitable, deep recession, it won't matter a great deal what the content providers say.

    The consuming public simply won't be able to afford to spend the money they used to.

    So they can sue until they're blue in the face. DMCA everything in sight. In the long run, the most litigious are going to face extinction, as their media will not be in the public eye, and therefore will not be better positioned to capture larger slices of a smaller and smaller pie.

    My flatmate watches Youtube a lot. He just bought several seasons of the 'Colbert Report', 'Dave Schapelle Show', 'Family Guy', 'South Park', and several other TV shows through the Apple store because he wanted the shows he'd watched on Youtube available in HD on his PC.

    I recently bought the new Armin Van Buuren 'Imagine' CD because of low quality youtube clips. I have bought other albums, DVDs, TV series (Futurama, Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nocchi Guu being examples) because of sampled media on Youtube.

    For Viacom who still doesn't get it: I SAMPLED THE MEDIA ON YOUTUBE AND BOUGHT THE HIGHER QUALITY ORIGINALS.

    Between my flatmate & I, we've spent over $2000 dollars in the last year because of sampling on youtube. I've been introduced to new content I never knew existed before through recommendations and links on Youtube, and made purchases subsequently. To be honest, it's frustrating to try and watch youtube clips on my 1080p 50" Plasma TV from Youtube. Especially if it's something I have just recently got REALLY into. It takes 10 seconds to hop onto Itunes Store / Amazon / etc and buy the originals.

    By all means, Viacom can have all it's material removed from Youtube - however, as I haven't watched TV in YEARS, that means Viacom media is quite simply never going to cross my radar. And therefore, it's chances of being bought by myself or my flatmate reduce to practically nothing.

    Way to go Viacom!
    Shinsengumi