updated 04:10 pm EDT, Thu March 18, 2010
Court documents show Viacom tried to buy YouTube
About a year before filing a $1 billion copyright claim against Google and YouTube in 2007, Viacom tried to buy the popular video hosting site, court documents that were made public on Thursday reveal. Viacom owns MTV and Paramount Pictures, among other networks, and Google is accusing it of having continued to secretly upload its videos to the site even after filing the lawsuit.
Google, which owns YouTube, claims Viacom acted hypocritically and "deliberately allowed its copyrighted content to remain on YouTube," in order to raise the popularity of its creations. In the meantime, Viacom claims several publicized e-mails show that YouTube managers were aware of employees uploading unauthorized content and encouraged it.
Google depends on a safe harbor clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 for its defense, which allows web sites to remain invulnerable from lawsuits if they did not have knowledge of "apparent" infringing activity and did not receive a financial benefit. Viacom, on the other hand, maintains Google profited from ad sales and built up a fan base as a direct benefit of the copyrighted content it hosted.
Whatever the decision, it is expected that it will set a precedent on whether protecting intellectual property rights on the web is the job of a copyright owner or web site operator. Whichever party loses is also likely to appeal the decision. [via CNET]