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Viacom-Google Unsealed: Take Two: Viacom Exec: ‘YouTube Mostly Behaves’

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Updated: Some more tidbits from the latest batch of unsealed documents in the Viacom (NYSE: VIA) copyright suit against Google/YouTube, this time from Google. Pushing its own agenda, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) highlights Viacom’s internal discussions about buying YouTube, plays up Viacom’s top lawyer’s defense of YouTube compared to Grokster; and pulls out a South Park suggestion that piracy is good. Some of the July 2006 e-mails also foreshadow the upheaval Viacom is about to face in the CEO office. Exhibits from discovery are isolated examples offered to back up claims being made by parties in lawsuits. I pulled out some here and in an earlier post about Viacom exhibits that struck me as interesting for a variety of reasons.

— a July 2006 e-mail exchange between Jason Hirschhorn and Viacom General Counsel Michael Fricklas as Viacom deliberates about buying the video portal. Fricklas replies to an Ars Techinca explainer Hirschhorn sent around on YouTube and copyright: “Mostly, YouTube behaves — and why not — user-generated content appears to be what’s driving it right now. Also the difference between YouTube’s behavior and Grokster’s is staggering. while the supreme court’s language IS broad; the precedent is not THAT broad.” Hirschhorn carefully responds: “I believe that more than 60% of youtube’s traffic is from copyrighted material.” [A Viacom rep who reached after this post was published tried to play this down by describing it as an informal e-mail between friends, adding “In a matter of months, it became clear to Mr. Fricklas and others that YouTube’s behavior was egregiously unlawful.”]

— Viacom execs, who missed out on MySpace (NYSE: NWS) the year before, are beyond keen to get YouTube. Not surprisingly, Google highlights gthe most, um, exuberant parts: MTVN CEO Judy McGrath telling M&A execs: “Help us get YouTube. We cannot see it go to Fox/NBC” and “I want to own YouTube. I think it’s critical asnd if it goes to a competitior!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even if we have to buy it with a partner to keep it below the line.” Then-Viacom CEO Tom Freston:”If we get UTube

3 Responses to “Viacom-Google Unsealed: Take Two: Viacom Exec: ‘YouTube Mostly Behaves’”

  1. One thing I was exposed to – as the brother of Michael and also CTO of a social media internet company – was that time was a time of education for all the parties involved, with a huge learning curve. The memos flying around indicate that initial impressions aren’t where you wind up when you’re finding out about a new technology, must less a transformative new way of doing business. Read the statements — examine the timeline – and where Viacom wound up on this makes total sense. As anybody in business will tell you, the agitated initial reactions of senior executives before research is done don’t mean much – what’s meaningful is what takes shape after ramifications are considered, options explored, and a plan is formed.