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Team YouTube Gets More Support: Creators File Amicus Brief

UPDATED: A group of YouTube (s GOOG) creators filed an amicus brief in the ongoing legal battle between Google and Viacom (s VIA) last week, voicing their support for the site’s value as it currently operates and arguing that to make YouTube responsible for the content posted on the site could destroy what has been built there.

The brief, which follows similar filings from Hollywood studios and Silicon Valley allies, can be read in PDF form courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, includes subheadings like “YouTube Helps Us Change The World” and “These Lawsuits Are About Us.”

Those participating represent just a few of the people who have made use of YouTube as a way to connect with the world on a new level, the complete list being, in alphabetical order: David All, Adam Bahner, Michael Bassik, Dane Boedigheimer, Michael Buckley, Chris Cunningham, Iman Crosson, Arin Crumley, Mitchell Davis, Phillip de Vellis, Ronald Erikson II, Benny Fine, Rafi Fine, Jason Fisher, Kassem G, Christine Gambito, Hank Green, John Green, Ian Hecox, William Louis Hyde, Improv Everywhere, Kev Jumba, Salman Kahn, Alan Lastufka, Brian Lustig, Kevin Nalty, Marina Orlova, Anthony Padilla, Byron Pascoe, Mehdi Saharkhiz, Alli Speed, Paul Telner, Charles Trippy, Cory Williams, Dan Zappin, and Barnett Zitron.

It’s a wide range of talent, from vloggers to journalists to filmmakers to activists, and they make a compelling point that should Viacom win this lawsuit, it would damage the value YouTube has brought to their lives and others. From the brief:

We want to retain the features of YouTube that have made it so important to us. Plaintiffs think that the Internet should operate like television. They want YouTube to be liable for anything and everything that someone uploads. We believe that vision is not what Congress had in mind when it enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). The point of this act was to lead us into the new millennium, not to tether us to the last one.

The group of YouTube creators who have banded together for this brief have called themselves “The Sideshow Coalition,” which they say directly addresses a comment made by Viacom that “authorized uses are a sideshow.” (It’s worth noting that I tried to track down the “sideshow” comment today in context and failed — web searches pulled up nothing, and the brief quoted, Viacom Opposition Brief 16, does not appear to be available on Viacom’s legal filings archive or elsewhere. I’ve reached out to the attorney representing the Sideshow Coalition, but he has not yet responded to requests for comment.)

UPDATE: Attorney Eric J. Grannis forwarded me the brief in question, known as “Viacom’s Memorandum of Law In Opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment” (which is on the Viacom site as a PDF). The quote comes from page 16 of the brief, in context reading as follows:

Grokster also forecloses Defendants’ argument that they are shielded from liability because many of the videos on the site are noninfringing, such as presidential debates or authorized premium content. See Defs. Opening Mem. 89-91. These authorized uses are a side show. Viacom takes no issue with YouTube when it displays videos with proper authorization. But the presence of noninfringing material is no defense to copyright liability for the array of infringing videos on the site.

But even without context, there is something dismissive to the term “sideshow” that indicates a fundamental misunderstanding by Viacom about the changing face of media — possibly a deadly one. Because we’re looking at a generation of young people right now who see a series like the independently created Annoying Orange (whose creator, Dane Boedigheimer, is one of those participating in this coalition) as no different from the mainstream content they might watch on the Viacom-owned Nickelodeon. To ignore the importance of that now means ignoring what that audience will be expecting as adults, having grown up without gatekeepers.

Related NewTeeVee Content: Poll: What Will You Do If YouTube Loses The Viacom Lawsuit?

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): The State of Social TV

285 Responses to “Team YouTube Gets More Support: Creators File Amicus Brief”

  1. Haley

    On one side I can understand Viacom’s point. But one another, I am on youtube’s side. Youtube is a great resource to aspiring minds. It gives those with great ideas but no resources, a chance to be seen by the world. To take away youtube is like taking a away an art studio and replacing it with a pencil. Not only are you taking away a great resource, you are limiting the vastness of the creativity and beauty.

  2. timekeeper

    Of course these creators are filing an amicus brief because without YouTube, they would not have a place to show their stuff. Without YouTube, they would not be generating any revenue for their content.

    What they fail to acknowledge is that this venue was built on the backs of copyright holders and they were not adequately compensated. Actually, YouTube financially benefited from copyright infringement and built a business around it. Over time, it morphed into a great portal for UGC. Ironically, now, because of YouTube, rights holders are giving away their content and generating no revenue from it.

    • Actually, YouTube was built on the backs of a few individuals who created the site software and then allowed anyone to upload anything. Just like any venue that is created with personal freedoms in mind, there are drawbacks such as copyrighted content being uploaded without permission, however YouTube has gone through extreme strides in protecting that content.
      My guess Timekeeper, is that you’re a shill for Viacom and trying to move dissent through the rank and file of the YouTube supporters.

  3. Tyler

    CTFXC/YouTube FTW!!! This law suit is just slightly (VERY) rediculous on Viacom’s part. Charles Trippy and Alli Speed have changed my life!

  4. Good luck, YouTube folks! This group that has banned together in support of YouTube are some of the people who have made the site truly great. Some of these people have changed the lives of others for the better. Why would Viacom want to stop a force for good and positive change in a world that could use more of such things?

  5. The dude

    I would advise them to get the help of Mike Mozart, who has evidence of Viacom using Youtuber’s videos without their consent, and are profiting off of it.

  6. jamie

    GO YOUTUBE!! really, Charles Trippy and Alli Speed vlog has become a part of my life.. it has already become a daily routine that I will watch ctfxc.. CTFxC FTW!!!

  7. Youtube has changed my life. Every day I come home from school and watch Charles Trippy and Alli Speed of CTFxC!! They make me a happier person. Corry Williams started it all for me and I now have my own youtube channel. It is bringing out the creative side of people and it should be left alone. Viacom is only pissed off because “The Internet Killed Television”!! They are just mad because they did not think of YouTube. “The Sideshow Coalition” & CTFxC FTW!! =^_^=

  8. Morgan

    GO TEAM YOUTUBE!!!! Viacom can suck it!!!! Why do they think they can just barge in and take youtube away? They are idiots! CTFxC FTW!!! Lavaheads FTW!!!! Together we can CRUSH VIACOM and send them back to making their terrible TV shows!

  9. The Tonzter

    Okay considering Google has become increasingly most popular… I vote they just buy out Viacom and call it a day… problem solved. It is not ViacomTube… They call it YOUTUBE for a reason! Google will win this no matter what… they are too big of a corporation to fall due to some shoddy sorry excuse for entertainment when YouTube is getting all their hits. And since when is free speech and fair use cause for infringement? PS I think it would be rather amusing to see Charles Trippy’s CTFxC’rs make an intro for them something along the lines of “The Internet Killed Viacom”

  10. Charlie Nault

    Another thing is that ( owned by viacom ) has taken youtubers videos an put them up on there website with a hell of a lot of ads ( like 15 ) and the youtubers who took time out of there lives to make then aren’t get any of the ad money.

  11. Joseph

    2 Names im surprised are not on there : Phillip Defranco & Ryan Higa

    Hope that youtube just kicks viacom to the ground where it belongs

    CTFXC FTW !!

  12. Kenneth Griffin

    LETS GO TEAM YOUTUBE. whenever i have a bad day i go and watch my favorite comedy on the site and i have an awesome laugh and i watch all the vloggers such as carles and ali. CTFXC FTW.

  13. rfore

    This is a list of great Youtubers. Go CTFxC! I love watching their daily vlogs. Also to Buck, he is hilarious. Oh and Smosh too. Bon chance!

  14. What exactly would Viacom get for infringing on free speech, a medal? What are these guy’s problems? Here’s something for you Viacom… perhaps if you aired more entertaining shows maybe Youtube wouldn’t be as big of a phenomenon is it is today!

  15. megan

    Charles Trippy and Alli Speed have made a good impact on my life! Every day if I had a horrible or great day I watch their vlogs and sketches and they make my day better. Their love is like something out of the movies and that makes me confident that true love really is out there and not everything is about sex or violence or anything like that. Charles and Alli are a true love fairy tale in the real world. :] CTFxC FTW!!!!!