Google attempts new defense against Viacom lawsuit: Spreadsheet snark

google attempts new defense against viacom lawsuit spreadsheet snark youtubeGoogle isso convinced that Viacom should drop its lawsuit against the company over copyright infringement with regards to YouTube that it’s released a 1373-page explanation why… And that that explanation is, in itself, part joke to demonstrate how ridiculous Viacom’s lawsuit is in the first place.

The question of whether or not YouTube is facilitating wide-scale intellectual property theft has been around pretty much as long as YouTube; Google, the video site’s parent company, has long argued that YouTube’s content is covered by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because, in part, it isn’t actively helping people bootleg material, and is taking down copyrighted material when such material is pointed out and the matter investigated (It’s not as simple as “They want this taken down, so we will,” of course; What if the clip falls under fair use? What if the clip isn’t actually what it is reported to be? and so on), but that may not be enough of a defense for the courts anymore.

Initially, it was; Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube was originally ruled in the latter’s favor for that very reason, but the suit was revived on appeal when the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals suggested that the earlier ruling was flawed because YouTube did, in fact, know that it was hosting a lot of copyrighted material (In YouTube’s own estimation, 75 to 80 percent of material on YouTube is actually copyrighted and therefore potentially litigious). Google/YouTube, unsurprisingly, isn’t having any of that, filing a new motion for summary judgment – still sealed at this time – that argues that, in order for the lawsuit to continue, Viacom would have to prove that every single YouTube clip that violates their copyright has been viewed by an actual YouTuve employee and recognized as having been uploaded illegally by a party that was in no way connected with Viacom or any subsidiary company.

As if that wasn’t going to be problematic enough for Viacom’s lawyers to prove, the Google/YouTube team underscored the matter by releasing a supplemental submission to the court which contains a partially completed spreadsheet that lists the URLs of each YouTube video that Viacom has named as infringing on its copyright, next to a blank column with the header “Viacom’s Evidence for Each Clip-in-Suit Showing YouTube’s Knowledge or Awareness that the Clip Infringed Viacom’s Copyright, and Non-Expeditious Removal.” A snarky suggestion that Viacom has no such evidence? A request for Viacom to fill-in-the-blanks in each case? Either way, this is the kind of stunt that, if it were attempted in a fictional lawsuit, would have the hotshot defender pulled up by the judge for attempting to showboat instead of actually argue his case. We’ll see what happens in the real world soon.


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