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YouTube Fires Back At Viacom 183

Posted by kdawson
from the whose-internet-is-it-anyway dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "As we say in the legal profession, 'issue has been joined' in Viacom v. YouTube. In its answer to Viacom's complaint (PDF), filed Friday, YouTube says Viacom's lawsuit is intended to 'challenge... the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") that Congress enacted a decade ago to encourage the development of services like YouTube.' It goes on to say that the suit 'threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression.'"
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YouTube Fires Back At Viacom

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  • FP? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dosius (230542)
    Now YT, bring back xenutv1 (since you cancelled it because of the original xenutv that you cancelled because of a Viacom complaint) and I might consider calling it even.

    -uso.
    • Re:FP? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:29PM (#23565841)
      Not only bring back xenutv1, but explain to us how the Church of Scientology can open another account after having their first one removed due to harassment and cyber-bullying?

      It is of course Google and YT's prerogative to operate their site as they see fit and even violate their own ToS as they have very clearly done here.

      But by keeping xenutv1 shut down while allowing a Scientology to open a sponsored account calls into serious doubt how much we can trust YouTube to remain an impartial advocate of free speech in the user-created content industry.

      Do No Evil my foot.
      • Re:FP? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by catwh0re (540371) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:07PM (#23566133)
        Basically like this: CoS are paying YT a nice lump of cash to advertise on their site. So YT in return for this cash reinstate the CoS account. Money talks, no business has morals when it comes to cash.
        • Re:FP? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @01:43AM (#23567125) Journal

          no business has morals when it comes to cash.
          Sorry, I call bullshit on that one.

          It is a sad state that most businesses have obligations to shareholders, but to suggest that all businesses only care about cash must, by extension, mean that this is true of all people.

          I'll grant you "most", but the way you (and others like you) are wording this makes it an excuse. It's not, especially for a company which claims "Don't Be Evil." Shame on Google, shame on YouTube, and shame on you for giving them an excuse.
          • by erroneus (253617)
            Google lost its claim to not being evil quite some time ago. They should have simply refused to do any business in China at all. It would have truly set them apart and I believe it would have brought much positive attention to them. Their 'business decisions' like these have long since indicated that they have veered from their original mantra.
            • Re:FP? (Score:4, Informative)

              by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @04:53AM (#23567937) Journal

              Google lost its claim to not being evil quite some time ago. They should have simply refused to do any business in China at all.
              That's debatable. Doing business with China, even with PRC rules, provides more information to the Chinese people. That's good.

              Google also indexes the entire fucking Internet, so the filtering is bound to slip up somewhere. Things will slip through the cracks, as opposed to not going through at all. That's also good.

              Doing business with the PRC does support the PRC, which is bad. And they are actively censoring, which is evil. That's why it's debatable both ways.

              Caving to Scientologists is pretty much unarguably bad, with pretty much zero positive side effects.
              • Re:FP? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @05:02AM (#23567975) Homepage
                IF censorship was all that China did, I wouldn't care so much... censorship doesn't work. It's the official brutality, murder and the treating people as beasts of burden that bothers me.

                Scientology is a complete fraud... no argument there.
                • Re:FP? (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @06:02AM (#23568215) Journal

                  IF censorship was all that China did, I wouldn't care so much... censorship doesn't work. It's the official brutality, murder and the treating people as beasts of burden that bothers me.
                  But, censorship is all Google is doing here. They're not brutalizing, murdering, or mistreating people, as far as I know.

                  They are associating with the PRC, so maybe guilt by association, but it's not as though the PRC would stop just because Google refused to censor. They'd just block Google, and everyone there would use Baidu instead.
                  • Why is everyone so upset about this. It's better for them to be there than ont, and the only way to be there is to obey their laws. Yes, they may be Draconian, but life isn't fair. We all have to do what we can to try to make it better, and I think Google generally tries to do this.
                    • It's better for them to be there than ont
                      That's what's debatable.

                      We all have to do what we can to try to make it better, and I think Google generally tries to do this.
                      Explain the YouTube Scientology thing, then.
          • by catwh0re (540371)
            There is no excuse or apology in my statement.

            Just, quite clearly, saying how many businesses operate.

            For example: When you buy enough advertising in a magazine, you get editorial for free.

            When you watch the news, the sponsors products will turn up in news articles when possible. This isn't a coincidence.
            Now businesses have a primary goal of making money, your higher execs will usually promote people who make the most money to managerial positions. Sometimes these promoted individuals are clever folk wh

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              For example: When you buy enough advertising in a magazine, you get editorial for free.

              When you watch the news, the sponsors products will turn up in news articles when possible. This isn't a coincidence.

              And when you pull this enough, people start to catch on, and dislike it. That's actually one of the reasons Google was successful in the first place -- they separate out the "sponsored links", clearly and plainly, and otherwise deliver solid, accurate results.

              The theory is, at the very least, you want to pretend to be ethical, even for business reasons alone. Altruism works, evolutionarily, for individuals. Why not for corporations?

              My point is there is a real disconnect between how people act in businesses (particularly in America) and how a person acts in the real world.

              And my point is, that doesn't excuse how people act in businesses.

              Maybe th

          • Re:FP? (Score:5, Insightful)

            It is a sad state that most businesses have obligations to shareholders, but to suggest that all businesses only care about cash must, by extension, mean that this is true of all people.
            I disagree with that statement because

            (a) an individual can choose, in any given moment, between self interest and trying to help someone else, but

            (b) a corporate board of directors and corporate officers are pretty much required to choose the corporation's self interest. So a corporation -- if not closely regulated -- is essentially a sociopath with perpetual life.
            • Re:FP? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @07:45AM (#23568731) Journal

              (a) an individual can choose, in any given moment, between self interest and trying to help someone else
              And that has immediate consequences.

              Many people confuse "can't" with "won't", even in the personal case. I absolutely can walk down the street naked. I won't, because it's embarrassing, illegal, and unhealthy in this weather.

              (b) a corporate board of directors and corporate officers are pretty much required to choose the corporation's self interest.
              I'm not entirely sure, but I'm guessing that this follows the same rules. A corporate board of directors, and corporate officers, very well can choose an action that is not in the corporation's interest -- or not the absolute best, profit-maximizing move they could make.

              They might well lose their job and their reputation, and have to start over in the mail room somewhere else, but they have that choice. In fact, they might gain a reputation for being an ethical person, which isn't bad.

              So it is, again, that they won't -- that they care about their job more than their ethics. And if they care about their job that much, it probably has something to do with the money.
              • Re:FP? (Score:4, Informative)

                I'm sorry I wasn't more clear. When I said that directors and officers are "pretty much required" to choose the corporation's self-interest, I meant legally required. I.e., they are legally considered fiduciaries to the shareholders. Their legal duty is to do what is in the best interests of the shareholders.
                • I have to disagree slightly here due to what I call "weasel phrasing". While you're absolutely correct that directors and such have a legal duty to do what is in the best interest of the shareholders, it doesn't necessarily follow that grabbing all the cash you can get is in the best interests, nor is making as much money as is humanly or inhumanely possible.

                  In fact, I would say that being a good corporate citizen is in the best interests of the shareholders. Of course there is plenty of room for many opini
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    I have to disagree slightly here due to what I call "weasel phrasing". While you're absolutely correct that directors and such have a legal duty to do what is in the best interest of the shareholders, it doesn't necessarily follow that grabbing all the cash you can get is in the best interests, nor is making as much money as is humanly or inhumanely possible. In fact, I would say that being a good corporate citizen is in the best interests of the shareholders. Of course there is plenty of room for many opinions here, because the phrase "best interests" is open to as many interpretations as there are people. While some interpretation are clearly wrong and illegal, there is still a very wide range of perfectly valid opinions. It is statements like yours that give companies the excuse to be as bad as they want, and I for one disagree with that stance. I will now be prepared to see you blast all of my reasoning out of the water. :D

                    There's nothing wrong with your reasoning. I'm all for corporations being good citizens, whether it is or is not in the best interests of the shareholders' bank accounts. I would hold up Ben and Jerry's as a shining example. It did a lot of things which may have cut against the bottom line, but in the long run the company did fine.

                    And of course there are many examples we could give of the opposite; corporations which were supposedly acting in the shareholders' best interests, but their behavior got them

          • by Bombula (670389)
            to suggest that all businesses only care about cash must, by extension, mean that this is true of all people.

            Bullshit right back at ya. There are clear separations between individuals and organizations, one of the most fundamental of which is a distinction between the values they hold. Guilt by association may still apply, people must of course be accountable for their own behavior, and the old Nazi 'I was just following orders' excuse holds little water even under extreme circumstances, BUT, you are tal

          • I wouldn't call bullshit on any company that is publicly traded. The public company, with shareholders, is designed to do nothing BUT generate large sustainable amounts of income. It doesn't have political opinions, or feelings. It's a company. Yes, yes yes companies are made of people. But the people who run them are under tremendous stress and pressure, not to do the right thing, but to do the profitable thing, and if they can't, the board's generally have no problem letting them go and finding someo
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Vexorian (959249)
      aw give me a break already, so youtube removed an anti scientology link! Ok that's bad, but then again should we really get to see slashdot ramble about that whenever youtube is mentioned? Really...
  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:21PM (#23565235)
    The best part, in my opinion, is that they requested a jury trial. If they get that, Viacom is even more screwed.
    • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:45PM (#23565463)

      The best part, in my opinion, is that they requested a jury trial. If they get that, Viacom is even more screwed.
      Maybe not. That's an emotional reaction from you. The jury in a recent RIAA case ruled for the faceless record industry monster awarding them obscene amounts against some lady. Unfortunately, while most Slashdotters, other technically savvy people, and many educated folks have a very liberal view of copyrights, most Americans seem to buy into the kind of thing Viacom sells on this issue.
      • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:33PM (#23565869) Homepage
        Well, from what was reported in the media it sounded like that "lady" did a great job of provoking an emotional response on her own. At any rate, this won't be so much a case on the evidence (it's pretty open what YouTube does) but on law. Expect a few tons of legal opinions on both sides and pretty much a guaranteed appeal to the Supreme Court. Unless the case get sidetracked on more technical issues this is one of the really big deciders on the future of the Internet. I honestly don't think there's any choice here, even if they found in Viacom's favor all that would happen is that the US would be the luddites of the 21st century while YouTube-like services would pop up all over outside the US.
        • At any rate, this won't be so much a case on the evidence (it's pretty open what YouTube does) but on law. Expect a few tons of legal opinions on both sides and pretty much a guaranteed appeal to the Supreme Court.
          What I would really expect is a settlement. Viacom has made a mistake here. They usually don't take on people who can fight back. They are going to get destroyed if they don't back down.
          • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:55PM (#23566489) Homepage

            What I would really expect is a settlement. Viacom has made a mistake here. They usually don't take on people who can fight back. They are going to get destroyed if they don't back down.
            Honestly, I think they're too full of self-importance to even consider it. They're going to get all out there like in the Sony vs Betamax case with statements like The "VCR is to Hollywood what Jack The Ripper was to women" -Jack Valenti, only against YouTube. I really hope they got what it takes to take this all the way and hopefully set a precedent that'll keep them at bay for decades. And I think they're completely oblivious to what they're really walking into.
      • I don't think you should generalize based on ONE trial. Especially one that even the Judge has recognized [blogspot.com] was conducted in a flawed manner.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nametaken (610866)
          I wouldn't say he's generalizing. He said, "Maybe not".

          I think the point was that a jury will not always decide what we expect they would, or should, decide.
          • I wouldn't say he's generalizing. He said, "Maybe not". I think the point was that a jury will not always decide what we expect they would, or should, decide.
            Of course you're right that it's not predictable. But I would say that the close observers of the Capitol v. Thomas [blogspot.com] trial were sure she was going down. So it was predictable to an informed observer.

            What I would say about juries is that they usually do the right thing. Which means the RIAA will usually lose.

            Note that the RIAA has strictly avoided jury trials, until they had one where everything was in alignment:
            a Native American defendant who lived 120 miles away from the courthouse in a different community;
            a lawyer who was being held captive in the case;
            a few bad facts that could only be explained by a technological expert witness who could talk about zombies, etc.;
            defendant having no expert witness;
            a judge who was unfamiliar with the controlling copyright law issues.
            I could go on and on.
            • by Venik (915777) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @01:05AM (#23566933)
              When a judge is expected to hear a case dealing with a highly technical subject and the judge knows that he will most likely not be able to understand the technological side of the arguments - what is he likely to do? Sometimes I read the various trial documents posted here and I am amazed that there seems to be a great number of judges so well versed in the latest computer technologies to take on such complicated cases. Do they really understand the abracadabra coming from various expert witnesses, or do they just pretend to understand as a face-saving measure? I understand that many judges are well-educated, but a Renaissance Man is hardly a substitute for a network engineer.
        • by Kjella (173770)

          I don't think you should generalize based on ONE trial. Especially one that even the Judge has recognized was conducted in a flawed manner.

          The instructions may have been vital for finding her guilty or not guilty, but even if the verdict is wrong because "making available" doesn't equal copyright infringement they awarded almost 10k$/song. Even if the law had specificly stated that making a copyrighted work available is illegal, that's still insane damages compared to retail value based on an emotional response. But as you say, it's one trial.

      • by zappepcs (820751)
        Those same said Americans bought into all the PR by the Whitehouse about WMD in Iraq. If the MSM tells them something, they believe it. Remember how many of them watch American Idol? Judges are meant to be a bit smarter than that. When it's talk in the break room, everyone is an expert. When you are in court or put in a position of authority, those same said American Idol voters tend to tighten up and try to fly right. This is why you don't see too many complaints about juries being biased etc.

        The jury tria
    • by Odder (1288958) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:54PM (#23565545)

      Remember that stupid $250,000 judgement the RIAA managed to get out of a jury? That the jury was stacked full of people who had never used the internet? How they were given improper instructions and bogus theories of "making available"?


      Think how much easier it would be to find a jury that knew nothing about YouTube. They would eat up bullshit from Viacom about how Google became popular and made all of it's money off their garbage. They would know even less about slimy operations like Media Defender. Google could show them quirky home videos and free professional videos from the site and tell them that this is what the site was all about but it would be too foreign for the to understand. Society still has expectations that are warped by 90 years of government granted monopoly broadcast.


      It will take another generation to heal and that will only happen if this trial goes right.

    • ...which one do I side with? Which one will get the Slashdot "little guy fighting the big guy" medal of honor? I just... I don't know. On one side you have a multi-billion dollar corporation that seems to want to make money... and then there's the same thing on the OTHER side. Oh noes!
      • by mrbluze (1034940)

        ...which one do I side with?
        Maybe it'd be different if it was Viacom versus [porn/skank/goatse]tube or you[porn/skank/goatse].
      • But, but... they're two big corporations....which one do I side with? Which one will get the Slashdot "little guy fighting the big guy" medal of honor? I just... I don't know. On one side you have a multi-billion dollar corporation that seems to want to make money... and then there's the same thing on the OTHER side. Oh noes!
        In such a situation, why don't we just side with the corporation whose lawyers actually read the statute? (That would be Google).
        • by jimicus (737525)

          In such a situation, why don't we just side with the corporation whose lawyers actually read the statute? (That would be Google).

          AFAICT, Viacom are trying to muddy the waters by treating it as one great big copyright infringement suit. Google, OTOH, are saying "You're using the wrong law."

          Now, prior to the DMCA being enacted, Viacom would probably have had to use the earlier copyright laws to sue Google (assuming those laws make it possible to sue Google). The question I have is that now the DMCA stands in addition to those copyright laws, does that mean that you can no longer sue under the older copyright law if action under the

    • Here's hoping.
  • Too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dunezone (899268) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:21PM (#23565237) Journal
    Even if Viacom were to win this, they would still be losing out.

    Where is the first place I go to find clips of a show? Youtube. After that I head off to google in hopes of finding it somewhere else.

    Would I go over to Comedy Centrals website? SpikeTV? MTV? No, because these sites are cluttered with garbage and intrusive AD supported video players. I usually get lost at these sites anyway.

    Also, I'm 22, the perfect demographic for these opportunities and you've seem to have alienated us over the years with your garbage websites.
    • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:49PM (#23565491)

      Even if Viacom were to win this, they would still be losing out.

      Where is the first place I go to find clips of a show? Youtube. After that I head off to google in hopes of finding it somewhere else.

      Remember that Google is no longer (and hasn't been for quite some time) the warm and fuzzy "do no evil" startup it originally was. Now, from a business standpoint, it is like any other multi-national. This is about money, and in the end if Google loses, they will simply pay a license fee.
    • by troll -1 (956834)
      Would I go over to Comedy Centrals website? SpikeTV? MTV? No, because these sites are cluttered with garbage and intrusive AD supported video players. I usually get lost at these sites anyway.

      Mod parent up. After years of failing to get-on-board when it comes to the Internet, these big media companies now throw up crappy sites and expect to draw users away from YouTube. YouTube works because you're only ever a couple of clicks away from watching a video. Yet it took years for a lot of TV channels to fig
    • Re:Too bad (Score:5, Informative)

      by slarrg (931336) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:06PM (#23566125)

      The TV company web sites are the absolute worst. Often I want to know something simple, like when new episodes of Heroes will start. I go NBC's site and wade through page after page of useless crap and Flash animation that has no use whatsoever and there is not one word about when new episodes start.

      Their sites are always Flash-infested design disasters with absolutely no useful content linking to a schedule that has no information. I'm really not sure who goes to these sites.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by trawg (308495)

      Would I go over to Comedy Centrals website? SpikeTV? MTV? No, because these sites are cluttered with garbage and intrusive AD supported video players. I usually get lost at these sites anyway.

      I used to be like that - Daily Show/Colbert Report is hard to come by (legally) in Australia, so I'd head to youtube - until viacom started killing all the youtube links.

      I gave up for a while, then realised that all the Daily Show and Colbert stuff is available online from the CC site.

      Sure, its a bit lame, and its largely Flash which sucks - I'd certainly like a lightweight nerd-friendly site with just a video player and some clips (Daily Show isn't too bad).

      I don't even mind the ads at all - because they

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:23PM (#23565259)
    The loser in this case will be whoever has the smallest bladder.
  • by TheRedSeven (1234758) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:28PM (#23565315) Homepage
    In response to all your claims:

    "No we didn't."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:35PM (#23565375)
    the difference -- google's pocketbook.
  • Viacom's case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRedSeven (1234758) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:44PM (#23565457) Homepage
    Viacom's case seems to be based on the fact that it's too hard for them to keep up with all the copyright infringing materials posted on YouTube, and therefore YouTube should bear the burden of distinguishing what is and is not infringing. This is just silly. The burden under the DMCA is clearly on the part of the copyright holder, and that's the only thing that makes sense for companies who simply offer services of hosting.

    The only other point Viacom has is that YouTube transfers all video into their own 'proprietary' format and then 'copies' it (by which, I assume, they mean "show it on multiple instances of XYZ web browser"--or maybe backups). This is akin to saying that WordPress has its own proprietary format for blogs, by which it copies and distributes information. What a joke!

    And things get funny toward the end of the response, too. YouTube denies point #24, which reads:

    Defendant YouTube, Inc., is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in San Bruno, California.
    If you can't even get that right, you may as well just give up!

    My prediction (and hope) is that Viacom loses this one quickly and effectively.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Viacom's case seems to be based on the fact that it's too hard for them to keep up with all the copyright infringing materials posted on YouTube, and therefore YouTube should bear the burden of distinguishing what is and is not infringing. This is just silly.

      I agree.

      Lawsuits like this make me wish that YouTube & similar companies would rollback any filtering or flagging of content that goes beyond the DMCA requirements just to stick it in the **AA's eye.

      The only reason YouTube and others have played along with **AA members demands so far is on the off chance that YouTube & Co. can license content (or some exclusive hosting agreement) from them.

    • by zolltron (863074)

      And things get funny toward the end of the response, too. YouTube denies point #24, which reads:

      Defendant YouTube, Inc., is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in San Bruno, California.

      If you can't even get that right, you may as well just give up!

      Ironically, in the very next paragraph (paragraph 25) YouTube says, "Defendants admit that YouTube is a Delaware limited liability company with its principle place of business in San Bruno, California". Brilliant.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      oh look another idiot.

      "Defendant YouTube, Inc., is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in San Bruno, California.

      If you can't even get that right, you may as well just give up!"

      Deleware is very pro business. Where your corporation is registered and where you operate are two entirely different things.
      • Re:Viacom's case (Score:5, Informative)

        by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:47PM (#23565983)
        Yes, but they're not a Delaware corporation [wikipedia.org]. they're a limited liability company [wikipedia.org] located in Delaware. Differant things.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Score Whore (32328)

      Viacom's case seems to be based on the fact that it's too hard for them to keep up with all the copyright infringing materials posted on YouTube, and therefore YouTube should bear the burden of distinguishing what is and is not infringing.

      I'm curious. Let's say ChoicePoint decides they'd like to do more business. So what they decide to do is establish a website called ReportOnConsumers.com. Where anyone can upload a document about anyone. Of course they want to make it possible for people to properly police

      • by enoz (1181117)
        I almost spent some effort trying to argue against your strawman, but I digress.

        Your argument is only relevant to this case if you published your own 'report' on the internet/tv/etc in the first place. Then it sure is your responsibility and your responsibility alone to police every instance that it is republished.

        Copyright may be granted by default, but it is certainly not enforced on your behalf.
      • by profplump (309017)
        An Internet-based service where you can post any document you want that says anything you want? I bet my web hosting company would love to sell that idea.

        Seriously, ignoring the fact that you've just described "The World Wide Web" as some yet-unrealized boogieman, I don't see what the problem is. I'm free to make credit-granting decisions based on essentially any criteria I want, except those few classes granted special legal protection. But "favorite shoe color" is not a protected class, and if I want to a
  • The DMCA is not the root of all evil? I'm so confused...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:53PM (#23565533)
    I've been increasingly concerned about this in the past, but this suit seems to add significant evidence to my thesis.

    As I remember, the DMCA has a safe harbor provision for "platform" and "network" providers that, basically says - as long as you don't exercise control over the content on your platform/network, you cannot be sued for infringement, the plaintiff must sue the one who uploads/transfers using your service.

    However, YouTube has entered into agreements and instituted technology to pre-emptively purge it's "platform" of copyrighted material - Therefore, they are no longer protected by the safe harbor.

    I would hazard a guess that those network providers who implement the pre-emptive content blocking of copyrighted materials being shared by peer-to-peer filesharing will eventually also be targeted.

    It's interesting that the *AA are insisting on pre-emptive content filtering and the network and platform providers are giving in -- not realizing that in doing so, they cease to be protected...

    IMHO - The *AA knows they soon will no longer be able to go after end users - the handwriting is on the wall. So they are setting up the next wave of lawsuits - network and platform providers. Since these are typically corporations that will simply pay to get rid of a lawsuit, it's easy money.

    But in order to sue them (or have a reasonable threat), they have to make sure the safe harbor provision does not apply. As soon as a network or platform provider begins to filter the traffic or content, the safe harbor doesn't apply and they're fair game.
    • Hmm. Could be true... but then, if they decide to use that ploy, they'll lose all the 'goodwill' that these services spent in trying to give them better tools to fight copyright infringement in the first place. These service providers aren't going to give up and die if they can help it, and they've got fairly deep pockets too. So, what happens? They completely backtrack on all of the tools and filtering and the *AA goes back to square one.
    • Slashdot = idiots (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @10:56PM (#23566065)
      Commenting anonymous so the group-think drones don't karma-kill me for saying something they dislike.

      The notion that filtering somehow invalidates the Title 17 Section 512 copyright infringement safe harbor is complete and utter bullshit which has gained inertia on Slashdot only by sheer repetition.

      Please cite the exact line of the statue which you believe creates this effect before repeating this nonsense again.

      The protection provided for service providers by OCILLA for service providers is damn near absolute, so long as they don't have actual knowledge of the infringement and so long as they comply with the takedown procedure. There is absolutely no requirement for neutrality or lack of filtering.

      Viacom is arguing, among other things(*), that when the procedure is combined with anonymous users and the enormous scale of sites like Youtube that copyright is effectively nullified as an unintended side effect of how YouTube is complying with the takedown procedures, and that congress did not intend to nullify copyright. They will probably win that argument, because it's clearly true.

      (*Viacom also argues that YouTube had actual knowledge of the infringement, that they are a publisher and not just a service provider because they transcode, thumbnail, and integrate the videos into their own pages rather than just make them available for download... Either of which would cause YouTube to lose the safe harbor.)
      • by Vexorian (959249) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:11PM (#23566157)
        I find it amusing you simultaneously think slashdot = idiots yet you apparently worry a lot of about your karma...

        Viacom is arguing, among other things(*), that when the procedure is combined with anonymous users and the enormous scale of sites like Youtube that copyright is effectively nullified as an unintended side effect of how YouTube is complying with the takedown procedures, and that congress did not intend to nullify copyright.

        So, they are basically saying they don't have enough control of the internet, and that such situation should be declared as unfair by the congress, so that everyone making a site with thumbnails has to totally screen out every thing submitted by any user for copyright infringement.

        So, copyright is not enough to them, they also want the world to police their own copyright for them.

        They will probably win that argument, because it's clearly true.

        Besides of how "true" it "clearly" is, the fact remains that the entertainment industry is spoiled and cannot stand a channel of distribution they cannot control, so they are wrong in my book. Also, what the heck? How is youtube or any web site supposed to know something is copyrighted? It should seriously be the author's responsibility to protect his own imaginary property.
      • by Software Geek (1097883) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:55PM (#23566491)
        Viacom alleges in their complaint that YouTube receives a financial benefit directly attributable to infringing activity (via add revenue generated from the infringing material)

        Also, they allege that infringing activity is apparent, given YouTube's ability to filter out other things (pr0n and the copyrighted material of it's partners.)

        Each of these allegations appears to be directed at voiding the safe harbor provision in the law.

        Here are the relevant parts of the safe harbor provision (512(c)(1))

        (1) In general. - A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the storage at the direction of a user of material that resides on a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, if the service provider -
        (A)(i) does not have actual knowledge that the material or an activity using the material on the system or network is infringing;
        (ii) in the absence of such actual knowledge, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent; or
        (B) does not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity; and
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:05PM (#23566121) Journal
      The DMCA has a safe harbor provision for "platform" and "network" providers that, basically says - as long as you don't exercise control over the content on your platform/network, you cannot be sued for infringement, the plaintiff must sue the one who uploads/transfers using your service.

      However, YouTube has entered into agreements and instituted technology to pre-emptively purge it's "platform" of copyrighted material - Therefore, they are no longer protected by the safe harbor. ... As soon as a network or platform provider begins to filter the traffic or content, the safe harbor doesn't apply and they're fair game.


      If so, couldn't they just say this:

      "OK, we'll turn off the filtering starting immediately and discuss whether there are contract violations with our contract partners as a separate matter from this case. We ask the court to rule that the safe harbor is clearly in effect once the filtering has stopped and limit this case to the period when the filtering was occurring. If plaintiffs don't agree and do want us to continue filtering pending the resolution of this case, we ask them to request that the filtering remain in effect and either waive any claims that the filtering invalidates any safe harbor provision of the DMCA or waive any damages for the period from now until the resolution of the case should it be determined that the safe harbor provisions would immunize us and filtering invalidates them."
    • To boil down the parent post, is this fight for real?

      Is this really some corporate-backed entity trying to chip away at some of the self-destructive provisions of the DMCA? Will it attempt to establish the "meaning" of media in this age? Or will it be an out of court backstab leaving nothing changed and more and more people classified as criminals?

      -dave
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)
      Well, we'll see how that argument spins as I think YouTube will play that as "We have gove above and beyond what's required by law at the insistance of copyright holders, yet they demand the impossible. While this process is imperfect, removing it because of increased liability would cause a massive surge in piracy which would hurt the plaintifs. Causing damage to themselves in order to recover it through the legal system is an abuse of the legal system and should not be permitted". I think Viacom would hit
  • "Legitimate" seems like a word that both sides in this case (and in most "intellectual property" disputes) want to claim as their own. The person saying it attempts to sidestep the entire debate of what makes a use "legitimate" (for whom, how, etc.) and hopes that the audience just assumes that he objectively knows what a legitimate use is (and agrees with his unspoken definition). Of course, those questions go to the heart of the real issue.
  • ViaCom Trawling? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Correct me if I'm wrong (not uncommon), but is ViaCom actually arguing that they should be able to surreptitiously upload content to YouTube, and then sue YouTube for hosting illegal content, since it's not provably there "with permission"? Barring YouTube's (highly unlikely) ability to prove ViaCom's uploading of a piece of content, how would YouTube otherwise defend against such trawling for awards?
    • By the fact that YouTube is not the "copyright police" and that if Viacom wants to take down a video they have to tell YouTube that and not expect YouTube to take down all Viacom videos.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:20PM (#23566233) Homepage Journal
    It's not their copyrighted material that scares them. What frightens them is the potential for any person to create content which people find entertaining. More entertaining, in fact, than anything Viacomm can possibly come up with. It's a means of media distribution that they don't and can't control, and it frightens them. They would be quite happy if it just disappeared, and they're going to mount any attack they can to make that happen.

    First the lawsuits will start. I suspect those will fail. The next thing that happens after that is that someone will try to create a competing web site that completely misses the point and puts restrictions on users uploading content and tries to add DRM and advertising to any videos that do get uploaded. Then some gigantic media conglomerate will try to buy and bury Youtube. If all that doesn't work, they'll likely just give up and live with it. Not many companies make it past all that harassment though.

    • by cdrguru (88047) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:39PM (#23566381) Homepage
      If your idea of entertainment is "Ow, My Balls", YouTube is probably all you have ever been looking for.

      What YouTube offers is the distribution of entertainment they did not create. Clearly it is distributing Viacom content as well as that from lots of other sources as well. Viacom isn't going to be able to control this and is likely doomed in the long run.

      Of course, "entertainment" is going to be of the "Ow, My Balls" caliber pretty soon. I do not see an upside to this. It is not freedom for the masses, it is public theft of private property. The result will be the elimination of the private property from being created.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JoshJ (1009085)
        This is /., so:
        If I steal your car, it is wrong because you no longer have it.
        If I press a button and make a copy of your car; you still have it and are in no way harmed.
      • by RobBebop (947356)

        It is not freedom for the masses, it is public theft of private property. The result will be the elimination of the private property from being created.

        You used the word "property" instead of the word "entertainment". When I can take a siesta a cozy little bungalow that somebody uploaded to YouTube, then your "property" argument will hold some water. Until then, please try harder to distinguish between "property" and "creative projects with an expected ROI for the people who paid for them".

        As far as your "Ow, My Balls" argument goes... I assure you that you will find an intellectual balance on YouTube if you spent an hour or two looking. If you sear

      • Actually, I'd say that we're already well into a situation where the "best quality" entertainment is no longer generally produced by the people with the fattest wallets!

        Hollywood cranked out mostly unoriginal, dull movies for the last year or two. (Many of their "biggest hits" have been adaptations of comic books and cartoons. Not that I have anything against comics, but let's face reality here. That material was aimed primarily at KIDS, and isn't exactly "high-brow literature". If that's the BEST Holly
    • More entertaining, in fact, than anything Viacomm can possibly come up with.
      I see you haven't watched many youtube videos.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Greyfox (87712)
        Sure I am! Pretty much every depraved sexual act you can imagine, someone's doing on youtube. Take any concept that should not be in any way associated with sex (Care Bears, puppies, Dolphins, Men dressed as nuns,) add the word "Sex" and hit search. Then after you get done washing your brain... sorry, what was my point again? Oh yeah, Viacomm just can't compete with that shit, that's right...
  • ...for us to establish serious penalties for invalid litigious activity. The fact that everyone is suing everyone, for money, sickens me, and is an extreme waste of our judicial resources. Add traffic violations that are not in line with the 'intent' (and thus the constitutional explanation for the law), and you've got a glaring systematic problem.
  • No Big Deal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jgc7 (910200) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @11:59PM (#23566507) Homepage
    The lawsuit is for $1 billion... which is a whopping %0.6 of GOOG's market valuation. Win or lose, it is not all bad for google. If they lose, their competitors will get shutdown because of the legal precedence; they will be the last man standing. If they win, they get to continue as usual.

    I don't think Viacom stands a chance... they need to show "willful, intentional, and purposeful" infringement. The case rests on data as a percentage basis, how many views turned out to be infringing content? 60%? 30%? 10%? 2%? IMO, if the answer is 60%, Viacom should win. If it is 2%, they should lose.

  • If the Internet is only about piracy of property than the Viacom suit does threaten the Internet. But lets face it, Google is worried about Google and their business, not the Internet, you or me. The dominant position of Youtube, which was consciously built on piracy and help lawyers help engineer the business plan, is based on people posting material they don't own. Recent studies show that the most watched videos are music videos that are copyrighted and are posted without the owner's permission. Hen
  • Let's say Youtube is a huge storage house where you put many boxes. The problem is, you don't know what the boxes contain until you actually open them. Labelling each box (i.e. for a screenshot) isn't any guarantee - remember the rick rolls disguised as "cool stuff"? The videos were carefully crafted as to show a non-rickroll screenshot.

    Searching by tags and title is no guarantee, since some videos are blatantly fake (i.e. latest anime series X episode Y that actually have a previous episode - the comments in these ones are hilarious to read) or can contain fair use material. Perhaps they're parodies which redub the entire episode, so even developing a "video fingerprint" for these wouldn't be accurate.

    So how is youtube going to implement a filter for copyrighted stuff? The answer is simple: They just can't.

    So the only choice to determine whether a video is an illegal copy of a copyrighted work or not, is to watch it.

    So - viacom complains that there are tons of copyrighted videos in youtube. Could you please explain how youtube, with its limited human infrastructure, keep in pace with all the copyrighted videos uploaded daily - no, every minute?

    So yes, there is something youtube can do to improve the situation - disabling accounts which repeatedly upload illegal videos. But how to handle situations where a company doesn't like a video ABOUT them and post a DMCA complaint (i.e.e Scientology, creationists)? Will the uploader be banned just by using free speech? Clearly, each case needs to be handled separately, and that takes a lot of time.

    In the end, it only comes to two choices: Check each video before it's made available on youtube (yeah right), or keep the current approach of taking down videos on every DMCA complaint.

    So this is not about youtube "assisting piracy", it's about viacom not wanting to spend a penny in hiring people to search youtube and file DMCA complaints.
    • by mckinnsb (984522)
      Bingo. I agree completely. This has nothing to do with piracy or YouTube's involvement in piracy - it all comes down to Viacom's unwillingness to hire people to watch hours and hours of video. Human auditing is the *only* way to truly identify copyrighted material as such. Everything else is just a stream of urine in a gale force wind.

      This is a big case in determining the extent and exact nature of the DMCA. If You Tube/Google come out on top here, the onus of copyright enforcement will fall (more) square
  • tin foil hat

    The more and more I see these things, the more I think that sinister forces are at work to maneuver governments and industry to keep a strong lock down on the flow of information.

    Democracies with hundreds of years of history of free speech and dissemination of information are under tremendous pressure to curb citizens right to share and transfer information. It is a totalitarian movement not stemming from Orwell's 1984 government, but the fascist working of corporation and government. The ironi

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