updated 06:45 pm EDT, Tue October 18, 2011
Viacom insists YouTube win a threat to video
Viacom on Tuesday tried to have a New York City Second Court of Appeals overturn a dismissal of its YouTube lawsuit. The media giant didn't believe that the basic principles of safe harbor applied to Google's video site and that it should be held liable for any illegally copied video that reaches YouTube, no matter how difficult it was to detect. Attorney Paul Smith portrayed the upheld ruling as having disastrous consequences for the entire media industry, as it would lead to "vast exploitation" of content online.
"It would immunize from copyright infringement liability even avowedly piratical Internet businesses," Smith claimed. The argument has historically been shown false since safe harbor only applies to sites and companies that intend to act legally, not pirate sites.
YouTube representing lawyer Andrew Schapiro rebutted him, contending that it was the copyright owner who was most likely to know if a video was infringing. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act already let firms like Viacom shut down pirated material by making a takedown request, the attorney said.
Viacom had originally sued YouTube over claims that the streaming site was built in its early days on pirated material. While slips suggested staff knew some material would be pirated, YouTube and Google have always obeyed requests to take down disputed content and just last year said they had a faster turnaround system that would pull illegal clips within no more than a day.
The media outlet has often been one of the most conservative in accepting the move of video to the Internet and has often refused or pulled its shows from popular sites like Hulu and YouTube in hopes of steering users to its own site or to traditional TV. It remains one of the only studios that objects to iPad TV streaming despite settlements as it believes that any second use, even when it's the exact same stream that TVs receives, isn't covered by its existing TV deals.