Google Responds To Viacom Case: Bring On The Jury

Google has responded to the copyright infringement case filed against it by Viacom over video content on YouTube. Key takeaway? Google says the DMCA Safe Harbor provisions protect it from liability and wants a jury trial to prove its innocence. Several sources have covered the story already, so I’ll do a round-up of what’s being said:

Google Files Response To Viacom Lawsuit; Denies Claims; Seeks Jury Trial from PaidContent writes:

Google’s 12-page response echoes its initial reaction—insistence that it has upheld the DMCA and that any finding otherwise would cause damage beyond Google. The constant refrain: “Defendants deny the allegations…"

Google responds to Viacom lawsuit from eWeek’s Google Watch has a copy of the actual response here (PDF file). There’s not a lot to it, other than short, constant denials to allegations in the original Viacom complaint (here, PDF file).

Those denials are more to do with how you react to legal cases initially than actually try to prove points. Serious rebuttal happens if you go to trial — or if you move to dismiss a case (which I assume Google feels wouldn’t be possible here).

The most substantial portion of Google’s response is really from the first paragraph of the document:

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 legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression. Google and YouTube respect the importance of intellectual property rights, and not only comply with their safe harbor obligations under the DMCA, but go well above and beyond what the law requires.

Google To Viacom: Sorry, You’re All Wrong from BusinessWeek notes:

Among a list of a dozen defenses, Kwun [Google counsel Michael Kwun] said the key one is the Safe Harbor provision of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which to some legal minds provides a defense for firms that quickly take down copyrighted material when it’s requested by copyright holders. What’s more, Kwun said, "We actually got well above and beyond what the law tells us to do"….

Kwun took a jab at Viacom and other studios, too. "There’s a certain irony to the situation (with the DMCA)," he said. "These are the very people that helped to design the law. Suddenly, they don’t want to live with the other end of the deal."….

Although CEO Eric Schmidt and other Google executives have characterized the Viacom lawsuit as a form of negotiating through the courts, Kwun said Google’s "more than happy to litigate. I don’t view that as a business negotiation."

Google Calls Viacom Suit on YouTube Unfounded from the New York Times has this response from Viacom to Google’s response:

“This response ignores the most important fact of the suit, which is that YouTube does not qualify for safe harbor protection under the D.M.C.A.,” Viacom said. “It is obvious that YouTube has knowledge of infringing material on their site, and they are profiting from it.”

That’s the same as what PaidContent has (and probably others, though it has yet to show up on Viacom’s dedicated area about the YouTube case). I like the extra bit PaidContent has, Viacom’s slam against Google:

“It is simply not credible that a company whose mission is to organize the world’s information claims that it can’t find what’s on YouTube.”

Google Case Spells Windfall For Lawyers from Forbes covers the law firms involved in the case:

For the firms, high-profile equals high fees. If litigated, the case would rack up hundreds of millions in legal charges, according to litigation consultants. A large chunk of that would land in Wilson and Barlit’s coffers.

To see what others are saying, check out here, here and here on Techmeme.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | Google: Legal | Google: YouTube & Video | Legal: Copyright


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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