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Summary:

Viacom has been allowed to withdraw some 250 of the more than 60,000 video clips it’s suing YouTube over for copyright infringement, including around 100 that were uploaded to YouTube by Viacom employees or agents, reports MediaPost based on a recently released court filing. The move […]

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Viacom has been allowed to withdraw some 250 of the more than 60,000 video clips it’s suing YouTube over for copyright infringement, including around 100 that were uploaded to YouTube by Viacom employees or agents, reports MediaPost based on a recently released court filing.

The move makes the Google-owned YouTube look good by showing that it takes more than just glancing at a clip to screen if it infringes copyright because it was an unauthorized upload. That’s exactly how YouTube is trying to defend itself for hosting the tens of thousands of Daily Show and other copyrighted Viacom clips back when the lawsuit was filed in 2007. Viacom claims that YouTube should know when clips are infringing and remove them, but the withdrawn clips show that even Viacom itself doesn’t always know when clips are infringing. A Google lawyer wrote in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton,

“Perhaps better than any other evidence, this series of events belies Viacom’s assertion that ‘knowing that a clip is infringing is easy given the readily identifiable nature of Viacom’s movies and television programs.”

However, Judge Stanton seemingly allowed Viacom to make the clips disappear from the case without consequence. He declined to grant Google partial judgment alongside the withdrawal of the 250 clips.

It’s long been common practice for content creators to upload their work to YouTube in the hopes it will go viral; for instance, we wrote last year about writers for Jimmy Kimmel Live posting clips before ABC had a deal with YouTube. Viacom has also made a big deal in the case about whether or not YouTube employees uploaded copyrighted videos to the site themselves to help it grow an audience.

Update: We obtained Viacom’s letter to Judge Stanton, which suggests Google was trying to set up a “trap” or a “blank check” by identifying the clips which had been included in error.

“As we will show when we move
for summary judgment, Defendants’ massive infringement was intentional. Given the massive scope of their infringement, Defendants can hardly be heard to complain that in responding to
discovery requests, Viacom included roughly 250 clips (0.39% of the total) that it later withdrew.”

Earlier this month YouTube lost a separate copyright case in Italy, though it may appeal.

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  1. Well – 250 clips out of 63,000 makes it seem like a YT or Google employee or two might have noticed that a couple out of the 62,800 left might have been infringing. It’s not like Viacom posted thousands of old south park episodes or a whole movie in 10 parts for promotional purposes.

  2. the issue here is that the sudios did the same thing that they are accusing the “bad youtube” lol of. If they want to get onto someone, they have to sue themselves too.

    1. What you’re missing, n, is that the studios have a right to publicize their movies however they want. They own them. If YouTube is doing the same thing with the content as the studios, it’s patently illegal, unless YouTube has acquired the rights.

      I certainly don’t have the same right to use your property as you do. If I steal your car to deliver pizzas, my defense can’t be: “n delivers pizzas in this car, so I’m obviously allowed the same privilege.”

  3. YouTube Accuses Viacom of Uploading Clips, Making Its Life Difficult Thursday, March 18, 2010

    [...] Viacom’s actions would have made policing its content impossible. YouTube accuses Viacom of uploading its own content, and doing so in a way that made it difficult for YouTube to distinguish between its employees and [...]

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