Last fall CNET got hold of Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s deposition transcript in the Viacom-YouTube lawsuit (remember that one; it’s still going). Among other things revealed in the document was the admission that Google paid almost three times more for YouTube than its own internal valuation of the site. In addition there were other depositions and documents revealed that showed YouTube founders knew copyrighted materials were being uploaded to the site.
All this is very interesting to those following the case to be sure. The only problem is that this material was supposed to be “under seal” and not public. CNET’s Greg Sandoval was able to get the materials courtesy of a leaker-tipster (or perhaps more than one source). Google and the court are trying to identify the source of the leaks and may try and subpoena Sandoval’s testimony, setting up a classic “I won’t reveal my sources” scenario. CNET is owned by CBS, which itself was once owned by Viacom — the plaintiff in the underlying case.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York is reportedly going to hold a separate jury trial on the isolated question of the leak. The likely defendant in that matter will be LA broadcast journalist Bob Tur, who became famous for popularizing the inane practice of using helicopters to cover breaking news events in Los Angeles, especially police chases on freeways (including the low-speed chase of OJ Simpson).
Tur was also the first to file a copyright claim against YouTube in 2006, and is a plaintiff in a separate ongoing case against the company. He sued YouTube because some of the footage he owned was being uploaded to the site. That original suit has been consolidated into another class action.
The judge in the Viacom-YouTube case has reportedly granted Google’s request to file a motion for “terminating sanctions” against Tur. What that means is that if the court finds that Tur violated the court’s order, by leaking the sealed depositions, his case against YouTube would be dismissed. This would be a severe punishment of Tur but it wouldn’t affect the Viacom action against YouTube in any way.