YouTube and Viacom Duke It Out

By  |  Friday, March 19, 2010 at 7:08 am

Am I the only one who finds the current public squabble between YouTube and Viacom a tad unseemly? The opening briefs in Viacom’s copyright suit against YouTube were made public yesterday, and YouTube used the occasion as reason to post an item by its chief counsel accusing Viacom of secretly uploading its stuff “for years,” going out of its way to make it look pirated. Viacom has responded with a brief statement saying that YouTube’s founders thought their site needed to “steal” content to prosper; it doesn’t deny YouTube’s charges, but says they’re a red herring.

I’m not a judge, a lawyer, or an intellectual-property expert; neither are most of the folks who the YouTube and Viacom items are aimed at. That said, Mike Masnick of Techdirt has a good pro-YouTube analysis. And he links to the Hollwood Reporter’s coverage, which sides with Viacom.

OK, I’m not very well informed here, but if YouTube’s charge that Viacom sneakily uploaded its own content to YouTube is true, it does seem damned odd that it would be suing YouTube at the same time. It wouyld be like breaking into a warehouse and dumping your furniture there, then suing the warehouse’s owner for robbery. Right?

The early YouTube–before Google bought it, and shortly thereafter–was a Barbary Coast of Web video, and I can understand why content owners would be infuriated by it. Today’s version is more heavily regulated (and less fun). It’s still rife with copyrighted material uploaded without its owner’s knowledge or consent. But let’s hope that YouTube is now doing enough to police the site that its dystopian scenarios of Viacom winning the case and making YouTube and YouTube-like sites into impossibilities doesn’t come to pass.

 
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  1. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    “The early YouTube–before Google bought it, and shortly thereafter–was a Barbary Coast of Web video, and I can understand why content owners would be infuriated by it. Today’s version is more heavily regulated (and less fun).”

    I’m sorry Harry, but that is completely incorrect. YT has indeed always contained pirated material, but it has always been about user-generated content. The average user of course barely knows about this material, he will only use YouTube occasionally to watch a cat sing or search for a new music clip. But these are the least active YT-users.

    Teh really YT-community is a huge audience, making and wathcing home-made content: nigahiga, sxyphil, smosh, whatthebuck, communitychannel, KassemG, the vlogbrothers, LisaNova, iJustine, Charlieissocoollike, Athenewins, the clipcritics, meekakitty, the winekone… I could go on for hours, but it comes down to this: all these people make a lot of brilliant material themselves, and THAT is what YouTube has been about from the beginning.

    Sure, Viacom wants you to believe YouTube is an evil pirating website that only thrives on the material of others being illegally spread, but this is so far from the truth I was literally baffled you think about YouTube that way, especially about YT being less fun: the original uploaders are still there, making better material then ever, and many are have followed them in making new, original content, making he internet a funner place ;)

  2. Tech Says:

    Maybe they could just have a cat-fight and get over it.

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