TechCrunched By YouTube

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MIchael Arrington of TechCrunch.com probably did not even finish his morning coffee before rifling through papers on his desk and discovering a cease and desist letter from YouTube.

“I’ve loved YouTube since the first day I discovered it,” said Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.com. So the cease and desist letter sent by internet video website YouTube’s attorneys accusing TechCrunch of violating the website’s Terms of Use, among other things, came as a complete shock to Arrington, who said he “honestly believed we were doing nothing to offend YouTube or Google.”

YouTube accused TechCrunch of “tortious interference of a business relationship, and in fact, many business relationships,” of committing an “unfair business practice,” and “false advertising.” The attorney goes on to demand that we cease and desist in from engaging in these various actions or face legal remedies,” as well.

Violations of the Terms of Use include the addition of a small tool on TechCrunch’s site that enabled users to download YouTube onto their hard drives. Arrington claims the company reviewed YouTube’s terms of use before creating the tool and did not find that they had violated them.

YouTube’s Terms of Use state that, “If you download or print a copy of the Content for personal use, you must retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained therein.” The letter also states “The YouTube’s Terms of Use also allows users to access videos only through the functionality of the YouTube website via streaming on the Web, and it disallows the functionality of downloading videos,” which TechCrunch believed it had adhered to.

TechCrunch.com is a “weblog dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies.” In that case, it would make sense that the site would provide a link to download YouTube; just for viewers to try. Not that YouTube needs more viewers, they already have 100 million per day, but one would assume a link to their site would be good publicity.

YouTube itself is no stranger to cease and desist letters. In the past several months the site has received letters from the RIAA about using copyrighted music in their videos and not paying royalties to the artists, as well as from Comedy Central’s the Daily Show. Arrington says that, “the irony of YouTube accusing others of copyright infringement is delicious.”

The letter is currently under review by the attorneys of TechCrunch, and there is no word as of yet if there will be further legal action taken by YouTube. TechCrunch, while they feel they have done nothing wrong, does plan to remove to tool to preserve their relationship with YouTube.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.

TechCrunched By YouTube
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