– Google (NASD: GOOG) and Viacom (NYSE: VIA) have submitted motions for summary judgment in the $1
billion copyright infringement suit Viacom filed three years ago against YouTube.
Both companies’ filings included potentially damaging details on the other’s
actions, with YouTube employees accused of uploading copyrighted clips, and
Viacom taking pains to mask its own uploading of clips to the site.
communications from the filings revealed that Google executives said YouTube’s "business
model is completely sustained by pirated content" before the company
acquired the video site for $1.76 billion in 2006.
Another embarrassing internal communication
shows YouTube co-founders being chastised for uploading copyrighted videos.
going to have a tough time defending the fact that we’re not liable for the
copyrighted material on the site because we didn’t put it up when one of the
co-founders is blatantly stealing content from other sites and trying to get
everyone to see it," reads an email sent by YouTube co-founder Steve Chen
to fellow co-founders Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim in July 2005.
For its part,
Google maintains that it and all service providers should not be held liable
for any copyright infringement committed by YouTube users.
It also argued in
court filings that it would be impossible for it to determine whether Viacom
clips uploaded to the site were authorized or not — as Viacom went to lengths
to conceal its own uploads.
"For years, Viacom continuously and secretly
uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its
presence there," reads Google’s filing.
"It hired no fewer than 18
different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately
‘roughed up’ the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube
accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to
upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom."
Google says it has complied with terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA), which require that sites remove copyrighted content when asked by
producers — noting YouTube removed over 100,000 clips at Viacom’s request.
also pointed out in its filing that Viacom must not have thought YouTube to be
completely without merit beyond infringing copyrights, as it attempted repeatedly
to acquire the company before Google bought the firm in 2006.
(PDF: Google filings)