YouTube, Viacom Fight Gets Fiercer

    March 18, 2010

Almost exactly three years ago, Viacom sued YouTube for copyright infringement, and since then, neither side has been able to say much in public.  But today, 108 pages’ worth of court documents were released, and YouTube also issued a more comprehensible, 865-word statement.

YouTube Logo

In the statement (which was posted on the YouTube Blog), Zahavah Levine, YouTube Chief Counsel, raised several interesting points.  One group of claims made Viacom sound like an absolute villain, too.

Levine wrote, "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."

Sound far-fetched?  Well, here’s another accusation of Levin’s, and this one has been verified.  He wrote, "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."

Obviously, YouTube feels very strongly that it’s in the right.  If a judge decides otherwise (and it remains unknown when a ruling might come down), we remind you: Viacom asked for $1 billion when it first filed its lawsuit.