NBC Universal hasn’t filed its own suit against YouTube—yet—but in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) filing in a separate suit against YouTube, the company clearly sides with fellow media conglomerate Viacom in its $1 billion copyright infringement suit against the video sharing site and its parent company, Google.
The filing was submitted last week to the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California in a separate suit against YouTube brought by Los Angeles News Service operator Robert Tur. The suit, filed in mid-2006, accuses YouTube of copyright infringement for enabling users to upload and distribute copyrighted footage, including Tur’s video of trucker Reginald Deny being pulled from his truck and beaten during the riots which erupted in Los Angeles in 1992 in the wake of the Rodney King trial. Tur helped pioneer the use of helicopter footage, and was the first the televise O.J. Simpson’s infamous 1994 slow-speed attempt to flee custody in Al Cowlings’ white Ford Bronco. The copyright suit is among the first infringement suits filed against YouTube, and is being watched by copyright experts as a possible precedent-setting case which could hep define the legal arena of user-submitted Internet video.
In its filing, NBC Universal opposes YouTube’s motion to dimiss the charges against it, noting “Many of NBCU’s most valuable copyrighted works have been copied, performed, and disseminated without authorization by YouTube and other similarly operated Web sites. [..] YouTube actively manipulates and modifies the content in ways that the uploading user clearly does not, including copying, reformatting, and adapting the works [..] In operating its own commercial Website, YouTube engages in activities that are reserved to the copyright holder.”
YouTube and Google have not yet directly responded to NBCU’s filing, but have maintained that YouTube’s actions are protected under the much-criticized 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
NBCU’s position adds to the growing list of media companies and copyright holders linging up against the video sharing service; in addition to the high-profile Viacom lawsuit, the English Premiere League soccer (er, football) league and U.S. music publisher Bourne today announced legal action against YouTube for alleged copyright infringement.