The three-year-old lawsuit in which Viacom is seeking $1 billion from Google over copyrighted videos on YouTube moved a step forward today with the release of several court documents. The three documents unsealed today are:
- Viacom: Memorandum in support of motion for partial summary judgment (2.7mb PDF)
- Viacom: Statement of undisputed facts (5mb PDF)
- Google: Memorandum in support of motion for summary judgment (500k PDF)
As a refresher, Viacom sued Google in March 2007 for “massive intentional copyright infringement,” claiming that Google allowed thousands of Viacom videos to be posted on YouTube without permission. Google argued that it’s protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects online services from copyright claims over user-posted content.
In a post today on the YouTube blog, the company’s chief counsel goes even further — accusing Viacom of “continuously and secretly” putting its content on YouTube, and “deliberately” making the material look amateur.
For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.
Viacom’s efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.
Google also claims that Viacom tried to buy YouTube before filing its lawsuit three years ago.
As you’d imagine, there’s plenty of discussion and review of the legal documents online today. Here are a few of the better ones we’ve found:
- AllThingsD: Viacom, YouTube Make Their Case: Read Their Secret Papers Here
- CNET: Viacom, Google air dirty laundry in court docs
- CNBC: YouTube v. Viacom – Inside The Court Documents