Does YouTube Lawsuit Threaten The Future Of The Internet?

May 27th, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Story, Internet TV, Streaming Video, Video

YouTubeRemember Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against Google over copyright infringement?

Viacom sued Google, arguing that “YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization….based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content.”

Google is fighting back, claiming that the Viacom lawsuit threatens the future of the Internet as we know it:

In papers submitted to a judge late Friday, Google said YouTube “goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works.”

It said that by seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom “threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression.”

Viacom, on the other hand, responded that YouTube consistently allows unauthorized copies of popular television programming and movies to be uploaded and viewed tens of thousands of times.

Viacom says that it has identified more than 150,000 unauthorized clips of copyrighted programming — such as South Park & MTV videos — that have been viewed more than 1.5 billions times

“The availability on the YouTube site of a vast library of the copyrighted works of plaintiffs and others is the cornerstone of defendants’ business plan,” said Viacom.

Freedom VS Responsibility

The outcome of Viacom’s lawsuit is likely to be very significant.

While an argument can be made that there is promotional value to getting content on YouTube, an equally valid argument can be made that YouTube destroys the value of short video clips, like skits from Saturday Night Live or music videos. If the videos are available for free viewing and downloading from YouTube, copyright holders can’t expect to control their distribution or sales.

If Viacom were to win the lawsuit, YouTube might have to completely change the way it works, screening videos for copyright infringement before publishing. This could be unworkable and could rewrite the rules for new media companies.

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13 Responses to “Does YouTube Lawsuit Threaten The Future Of The Internet?”

  1. Some years ago, back in the days of dial-up BBS’s, there were two cases which pretty much settled the issue at the time. One involved Prodigy, and the other involved Compuserve. I remember them well because I was not only a sysop, I was also net coordinator for a network (The Grove Union) as well as a participant in several others.

    Case law at that time stated that so long as the sysop or net coordinator did not exercise editorial control over the content, then the sysop/nc was in the position of a bookstore proprietor who cannot possibly be held accountable for the content of every word in every book that might be on the sale shelves.

    If this point of law remains valid, it needs to be made clear to folks like Viacom. If a provider like YouTube takes action when they are told that action needs to be taken, then they are doing what they need to do. But they cannot be expected to review and preview every pixel.

  2. Charles A. says:

    YouTube is knowingly participating in a crime. The book store keeper scenario does not parallel that of YouTube.

  3. Kaz says:

    Explain to me exactly how YouTube has in any way violated a law. They as a whole are not posting the clips mentioned in the lawsuit. The people knowing violating the copyright laws by posting them on the YouTube HOSTING site are the law breakers. However, the only way companies such as Viacom can get at the people posting is to go after the hosting site. YouTube has a privacy policy in place that states they will not give out personal information such as your IP address without your express consent. There was a case recently involving a site called and the MPAA. Isohunt won the suit even though they host torrent files which are full movies and CDs rather than simply clips that are limited to 10 minutes in duration. Now again…explain the lawbreaking that YouTube or Google as the parent company have allegedly done please.

  4. James Lewin says:

    Kaz – if these cases were as cut and dry as pundits like to make them, there wouldn’t be any basis for lawsuits, would there?

  5. Brandy says:

    The court did order Google to hand over the IP addresses AND the login names, so they will see every video you ever watched. Thats scary….cause what if you clicked on something not knowing what it was can you be held accountable to watching a video?

  6. X says:

    The fact that every time you click on Youtube, they are getting money via advertising. Think how many videos get millions of views…

    If you wrote a show and it was put on national television. That’s your hard earned, worked, money we’re talking about.

    Lets put some integers involved. If you paid 2 Million dollars to air your tv series for 26 episodes AND someone recorded your show from their TV or whatever they use and posted an episode on Youtube, and it get’s, say 250K views. Their advertising costs 2 bucks an ad… That’s $500,000 from just 1 of your episodes…

    It gets worse, say you want to make a DVD…. After all the publishing and shit you go through for it… Extra 2 Million… The “viewers” would just “watch” your shit for free and the hosting site is getting all that money…

    How would you feel… Wouldn’t you sue as well…

  7. ALUMMOBELO says:


  8. jay says:

    No, the Internet was never high quality anyway.

  9. Google Sucks says:

    Google thinks the information should be free? Ok, well I think the advertising should be free. Why don’t they let their adsense be free for every one.

  10. Sam says:

    I say its simple–

    Individual companies/people who feel there stuff is being illegally broadcast on youtube should make it known and have it taken it down THEMSELVES. If theres one bad apple you dont throw away the whole bunch. Millions of people upload homemade videos or videos that companies allow to be shared and they are LEGALLY on youtube. So there is some piracy going on…..COMPANIES NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON THERE OWN SHIT AND NOT JUST TAKE DOWN THE WHOLE VESSEL CAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN WRONGED.

    Viacom has the right to have all the south park/MTV whatever taken down but to take on Youtube and try to take down the whole site? Completely against the rights of other people who use the site legitemetly.

    Plus Youtube DOES enforce copyright infringement. I Have had videos taken down/muted because they used music without the consent of the original artist…thats fair.

  11. Mike says:

    You’re all money grubbing whores! You get paid WAY TOO MUCH to make what is mostly crappy music and movies and shows anyways. If anything, places like youtube should be helping sales. You can’t buy publicity like this!!! If your product is good enough, people will still purchase it. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about to you people? Money? Take it and shove it…..

  12. seamus says:

    Before amps, before mics, before electricity for lights there once was a band that made money from playing live, people far and wide bye word of mouth(now the internet could be used in this case) would travel great distances to see people bands ectt. perform. upon arival your arival it would require to you to pay at gate.This fee would keep the performer and the venue happey with the quality results of the performance. And he who is best makes more money! well along comes the record player and the tape and the cd and the blue ray. all a way to make your performces be in in the peoples living rooms , all a means of big money, huge amounts of money from the sales of these un- live recordings. one day the smart people in the crowds invented a way to share these records via computers you know 0001010101000111001 binary code (computer talk).
    preforming folks its time to make a living like the rest of use and perform live to earn a living.

    no more 100 milliondollars bank accounts.

    sorry your own species has outsmarted yourself wih technology.
    and that is just apart of life .

    now movies will decline in investors. they may make there money back maybe not. titanic films will no longer be funded…. not sure how to resolve that line of entertainment anong with many forms

    please explain your thoughts

  13. Sam says:

    I don’t mind paying money to purchase an artists’ work. It pisses me off that I cannot download a song and pay for it using Itunes or Amazon MP3 when it is located in a different country. I have to set up a whole new account to do so and prove I live in the country where the song is located. I am not gonna go through the effort of doing so. Itunes should be available worldwide. There should no separate Itunes like Itunes USA, Itunes UK, Itunes India, etc.

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