YouTube says Viacom challenge threatens internet freedom

27 May 2008

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) A $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit over YouTube's ability to keep copyrighted material off its popular video-sharing site threatens how hundreds of millions of people exchange all kinds of information on the internet, owner Google said.

The company's lawyers made the claim in papers filed in US District Court in Manhattan as Google responded to Viacom's latest lawsuit alleging that the internet has led to 'an explosion of copyright infringement' by YouTube and others.

The back-and-forth between the companies has intensified since Viacom brought its lawsuit last year, saying it was owed damages for the unauthorized viewing of its programming from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks, including such hits as 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.'

In papers submitted to a judge, Google said YouTube 'goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works.'

It said that by seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for internet communications, Viacom 'threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression.'

Google said YouTube was faithful to the requirements of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, saying the federal law was intended to protect companies like YouTube as long as they responded properly to content owners' claims of infringement.

On that score, Viacom says Google has set a terrible example.

In a rewritten lawsuit filed last month, Viacom said YouTube consistently allows unauthorized copies of popular television programming and movies to be posted on its web site and viewed tens of thousands of times.

Viacom said it had identified more than 150,000 unauthorized clips of copyrighted programming that had been viewed 'an astounding 1.5 billion times.'

The company said its count of unauthorized clips represents only a fraction of the content on YouTube that violates its copyrights.

It said Google and YouTube had done 'little or nothing' to stop infringement.

© 2008 The Associated Press

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