Google Files Response To Viacom Lawsuit; Denies Claims; Seeks Jury Trial

The legal to-and-fro between Google/YouTube and Viacom continued today when the search company planned to file its response to the media company’s $1 billion-plus claims of copyright infringement. Viacom filed suit March 13, claiming, among other things, that Google and subsidiary YouTube are profiting from copyrighted content uploaded by users. (The original complaint is here.) Google’s 12-page response echoes its initial reaction — insistence that it has upheld the DMCA and that any finding otherwise would cause damage beyond Google. The constant refrain: “Defendants deny the allegations … ”

From the intro: “By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for internet communications, Viacom’s complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression. Google and YouTube respect the importance of intellectual property rights, and not only comply with their safe harbor obligations under the DMCA, but go well above and beyond what the law requires.”

Google product counsel Glenn Brown explained in an interview Monday that “the rest of what we argue — and will argue in the case — is that we’re confident in our legal position and we’re not going to let this case distract us from continuing to innovate …” Viacom contends that Google/YouTube was selective about offering copyright protection tools, favoring content partners. Brown emphasized that some DMCA management tools that go above and beyond the law’s requirements “have been available to copyright holders all along.” As for the claim that content partners are treated differently, Brown said copyright holders fall into various categories including those who want to maximize revenue, those looking for promotional value and those who want content identified and taken down. (A spokesman said some tools are being tested with copyright holders who have unique needs.) As for fingerprinting, Brown said it wouldn’t be very helpful to get into specifics “until Google was ready to roll something out.”

Timeline: Google had until Wednesday to respond. The case management conference is scheduled for July 27. In Monday’s filing, Google asked for a jury trial.

Update: An excerpt from Viacom’s response: “This response ignores the most important fact of the suit, which is that YouTube does not qualify for safe harbor protection under the DMCA. It is obvious that YouTube has knowledge of infringing material on their site and they are profiting from it. It is simply not credible that a company whose mission is to organize the world’s information claims that it can’t find what’s on YouTube.”