Get A Clue, Viacom, Says Google

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The media company wants to rewrite existing copyright laws to suit itself, Google has charged in response to Viacom’s op-ed piece in the Washington Post about the billion dollar copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube.

Google hasn’t wanted to have the Viacom lawsuit go to trial in the court of public opinion. That itself is the opinion of Michael Kwun, managing counsel, litigation, at Google.

Just as Viacom did with an op-ed article recently, Google has taken to the pages of the Post to make its case. While Kwun may be expressing regret publicly, it’s difficult to imagine the opening given to them by Viacom lawyer Michael Fricklas was unwelcome by Google, either.

Kwun dished out some zingers about Viacom’s position regarding YouTube, and the uploading of Viacom content by YouTube’s users. For example:

Kwun on the creation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: “Viacom’s lawyers helped craft this law but apparently don’t like it, after all.”

Kwun on Viacom’s actions and its requirements under DMCA: “They want to shirk the responsibility Congress gave them.”

Kwun on Internet freedom: “Viacom’s lawsuit is an attack on the way people communicate on the Web and on the platforms that allow people to make the Internet their own.”

It’s easy to speculate that the Fricklas letter and the Kwun response are sharper jabs thrown by a couple of welterweights, all part of a greater bout with an undetermined payday for Viacom at the end of it. The significant outcome of these exchanges won’t be the kind of deal Google and Viacom might hammer out in public, though.

The real outcome will be finding out if Google really feels strongly enough about copyright provisions regarding online content that they will fight for a decision in their favor. Google has a reputation of generally not settling cases when its business practices come into question, though Lane’s Gifts v Google was an exception.

Google usually wants the decision and the precedent it sets, to take along in a briefcase to the next court fight. A settlement may satisfy both Google and Viacom, but it shouldn’t satisfy Internet industry observers if it happens.

Get A Clue, Viacom, Says Google
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