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YouTube And Viacom: Viacom Refuses to Accept the Loss

Here we go again

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YouTube And Viacom: Viacom Refuses to Accept the Loss
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Apparently, one of the main rules of corporate level lawsuits is if you at first don’t get your way, try, try again until you find a judge that agrees with your constant complaining. Just ask Viacom and YouTube, or, well, just Viacom if you want to be specific, because YouTube is not the catalyst for bringing this story back into the public’s eye.

In case you’ve forgotten, when YouTube started its skyrocket ascent, Viacom was displeased with their content being available — for free — on YouTube’s servers, and so, they filed suit to have their content removed. That is an understandable, if not archaic position, one that becomes even more obtuse when you consider YouTube does indeed have a sufficient advertising model in place.

Because, let’s face it, Viacom’s position is all about getting paid when people view their content.

Digression aside, in 2010, a judge ruled that YouTube was given “safe harbor” protection, which essentially means as long as YouTube removes the offending content, it’s not YouTube’s fault if one of their users is responsible for uploading it, which makes perfect sense in the rational world. Unfortunately, that’s not the world Viacom resides in. No, being a corporate juggernaut, Viacom’s concern is for one thing and one thing only: profit.

Because of that, Viacom is working their asses off in an effort to find an appeals judge who agrees with them, and so, here we go again with the appeals process, one that says, “please, judge, make YouTube liable so we can have some of their money.” A snippet from PaidContent.org details Viacom’s position quite nicely:

What do Viacom and the other plaintiffs want?

Viacom wants the panel to declare that the judge made an error when he stated that the safe harbor protection applies to YouTube. According to lawyers from Jenner & Block, YouTube forfeited its right to the safe harbor because it did not make an honest effort to stop the clips from being uploaded and instead focused on growing its online video business at the expense of content owners.

Viacom is also hoping that the influential Second Circuit will provide a precedent that curtails the scope of safe harbors in general. It believes that the 1998 law has become too expansive…

Apparently, Viacom doesn’t know, or doesn’t care about the amount of content that’s uploaded to YouTube on daily basis. Or maybe Viacom thinks YouTube should be capable of seamlessly inspecting every aspect of the 48 hours worth of video that’s uploaded on a minute-by-minute basis, instead of reacting to it after a complaint has been filed.

Or, maybe Viacom just wants some of that YouTube money.

It’s funny, YouTube is a perfectly acceptable platform for Viacom to take advantage of when they release movies trailers, nor do they seem to mind when Internet properties like ClevverTV exploit Viacom properties for pageviews, like so:


The reason I used both of those trailers is because they both belong to Paramount Pictures, one of Viacom’s stronger properties. However, both of these trailers are featured on ClevverTV’s YouTube channel, meaning they get the page views and not Viacom or Paramount.

For what it’s worth, Clevver is a property that aims to keep teens hip and informed, and unless they are owned by Viacom, a distinct possibility, but it’s not indicated anywhere on Clevver’s about pages, Viacom’s stance appears hypocritical.

Apparently, it’s fine to promote their products in the form of trailers and television previews, just don’t upload video from properties Viacom makes money from. It’s also OK if the Clevver brand establishes its popularity via Viacom-owned trailers and other promotional content, however, if they upload a non-promotional clip from MTV’s Teen Wolf, then Viacom wants YouTube to be liable.

Does that make even make sense? To Viacom’s legal team, apparently so. Is it YouTube’s fault if these videos exist, even though no one has apparently filed the appropriate infringement notice?


Perhaps Viacom should be more concerned with policing their properties instead of relying on others to do it for them. If they filed the proper infringement paperwork, it’s safe to say YouTube would remove these offending clips, but instead of doing that, Viacom is once again going the litigious route.

YouTube And Viacom: Viacom Refuses to Accept the Loss
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  • GiveSuccess

    Craigslist was not able to use this poor excuse but YouTube(google)can? Look at whats on Youtube, if they had to get rid of all copied material there would be nothing to look at left. Google can afford to do what ever they wish. No One can afford to fight them. I bet Viacoms websites pages got de-indexed from Googles searches as revenge.

    • http://www.LAokay.com Steven

      One thing to note was that Viacom was uploading the content themselves in many cases and even asked Youtube to restore some clips that had been removed when Youtube couldn’t confirm it was Viacom that was uploading the content themselves. Viacom could have simply requested that Youtube keep the content on the site and pay a share of the revenue from the ads. That’s what Youtube offers to anybody. Either they’ll remove the content, or you can share in the revenue. Basically I think the judge ruled fairly as so much content is uploaded every minute that it’s nearly impossible for Youtube to catch all copyrighted content, but they do make an effort and do take take down notices seriously. I actually applaud the efforts of Youtube, as many sites don’t even have a way for you to contact anybody to request the content be taken down, nor do they seem to police their own site for copyrighted content at all. Not only that, but Youtube is actively asking the major tv and cable networks to add content to their site and they’ll share in the ad revenue. So they’re trying at least to come up with a win win proactive approach to get these top content creators paid for their efforts.

      As for Craigslist I don’t know that they actually take the time to review any of the classified ads. All I recall is that they want to do a phone verification to prove you’re real. Even Youtube doesn’t rely on just the public to let them know about copyrighted content. They do catch and remove a lot on their own. It would be very easy for Craigslist to use a service like copyscape to make sure that what they are about to allow to be posted on craigslist isn’t found on a bunch of other pages word for word. All that really would do is alert the poster to reword it enough to get away with stealing content as a base for publishing, but then it wouldn’t push the original content down in relevancy on Google’s index because the content was also on craigslist which is a .org and is considered to be an authority over a .com or .net site.

    • Tim

      I don’t know the Craigslist case but I’d put my hand on the chopping block that if Craigslist lost a similar lawsuit there were more to it than just CL being a venue. Probably they refused to remove some content or something. It is not a poor excuse, it’s the law. Youtube shouldn’t be held liable for content other users upload. What I don’t agree with is YT not sharing revenue with Viacom on the adsense ads on the vids.

  • http://www.wpwebhost.com Ricardus

    If you watch the clip by Jon Stewart, you’d have to agree on what he said.

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