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YouTube-Viacom, the CliffsNotes Version

Now, we’re no legal experts, but here are some of the more salient points drawn directly from the text of Viacom’s lawsuit against Google and YouTube. Some of the claims seem a little far-fetched — like one bit about the existence of “hidden videos” shown to users but not searchable by copyright owners (p. 4) — but these four ideas rang a little truer.

According to Viacom,

YouTube is not acting as a internet service provider providing a forum for users, but has a deeper relationship with the content on its website:

When a user uploads a video, YouTube copies the video in its own software format, adds it to its own servers, and makes it available for viewing on its own website. (p. 10)

Regardless of showing or not showing advertising next to copyrighted content, YouTube uses copyrighted content to drive traffic to its site, contributing to its value:

[T]here is a direct causal connection between the presence of infringing videos and YouTube’s income from the additional
“eyeballs” viewing advertising on the site. (p. 13)

YouTube does a bad job of combating near-duplicates of copyrighted videos:

[E]ven after it receives a notice from a copyright owner, in many instances the very same infringing video remains on YouTube because it was uploaded by at least one other user, or appears on YouTube again within hours of its removal. (p. 15)

YouTube’s proposed method of compliance puts the burden on copyright holders:

YouTube’s cofounder and chief executive Chad Hurley has publicly stated that YouTube will use filtering technology to identify and remove copyrighted works for companies that grant licenses with YouTube, but not to companies that decline to grant licenses on YouTube’s terms. (p. 17)

See our previous coverage: initial news of the lawsuit, the damages by the numbers.

Update: NewTeeVee contributor Steve Bryant has a more detailed breakdown on one of the other sites he writes for, Google Watch. He does a better job explaining the “hidden video” claim we mentioned above, with quotes from later in the lawsuit about YouTube limiting searches to 1,000 results (thus potentially excluding clips) and about private sharing within friends (which copyright holders can’t see).