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March 19, 2010

Viacom vs YouTube: Inconvenient Truths

The truth is difficult to find if those that know it have a lot to lose when it's revealed. Three years after Viacom sued YouTube for 1 billion dollars, some pieces of truth are revealed:

"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. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users." (YouTube blog)

"Viacom produced numerous documents, including a Google memorandum from the Google Video team about YouTube. The team told senior Google execs that YouTube was a "rogue enabler" of content theft, that its content is all free, and much of it is highly sought after pirated clips and that YouTube's business model is completely sustained by pirated content. In May 2006, Ethan Anderson, international business product manager for Google Video, told other execs, I can't believe you're recommending buying YouTube... they're 80 percent illegal pirated content." (Ars Technica)

While YouTube became popular by hosting unauthorized content, it's now a platform for self-expression and many companies use tools like Content ID to make money from the videos that include their content. Like many other online services, YouTube is protected by the DMCA, a United States copyright law which "creates a safe harbor for online service providers against copyright liability if they adhere to and qualify for certain prescribed safe harbor guidelines and promptly block access to allegedly infringing material (or remove such material from their systems) if they receive a notification claiming infringement from a copyright holder or the copyright holder's agent."

Even if YouTube's employees were aware that a lot of the videos weren't uploaded by the copyright owners, it was difficult to tell which videos should be removed.

This case shows that it's a bad idea to fight against those that love your work and want to promote it. Encouraging fans to be creative, learning from their ideas, finding which of your works is more popular and making money from ads - there's a lot to gain from being open-minded.


  1. We are with you Google on this fight vs Viacom. It is about time there is a company with power to finally fight for the right of the internet.

  2. I am scared where the modern net is going.
    This way any internet service could be brought down and or sued very conveniently, just hire someone to upload illegal things on it.

  3. "As YouTube's council recently pointed out, more or less any video is copyrighted. If you make a video, it's copyright to you upon time of creation. Few people actually bother to release their stuff in to the public domain, so the works remain copyrighted. Now that does NOT mean they can't be posted on Youtube. The holder of a copyright can determine how it is allowed to be used, including given away for free to anyone.

    Now, as that applies to big media companies the problem is that they themselves, or their agents, like PR agencies, do indeed upload content to Youtube. So just because a work is uploaded that is owned by a big company, it doesn't mean there has been infringement. Perhaps the company themselves did the uploading. They don't always do it through some official account.

    As such it makes sense to respond to infringement notices and remove the content, but not to run around assuming that you know what is and is not ok to be on there. Other than videos by the government (which are public domain at creation) or ones that people have bothered to release in to the public domain, it's all copyrighted material. However a great deal of it the copyright holders WANT to be on there, including when said holders are major media companies." (Slashdot)

  4. Wow, that's something new. I didn't even suspect Viacom to upload their own material to Youtube and then come up with accusations about piracy against Youtube and its users. This is sick. Are all media-companies that sick?

  5. fraid so Abgan

    you so its all about the money they don't care whats gonna happen to the net they just want money

  6. I'm with you google. So f you viacom for f'ing ruining YouTube. You f'king took down my YouTube account which had nothing to do with you. First next viacom. F&$@ you Viacom!

  7. dont hate on viacom theyve got it right youtube is ruing the natural order of the univers

  8. I think youtube and goggle are right, FCK YOU VIACOM

  9. More man hours have been wasted watching youtube videos than have been wasted playing WoW. It is a plague like no other.

    I honestly wish we would stop giving lazy fat a$$es more excuses to stay inside and continue being lazy fat a$$es.

  10. I'm much more likely to get started my blog soon, despite I'm relatively lost on everything. Can you really propose you give attention to a free of charge of demand level like WordPress or
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