Viacom Accuses Google; Testing Digital Millennium Copyright Act

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tugofwar_small.jpgViacom has accused Google of turning a blind eye to illegal video clips on its YouTube site in a bid to attract viewers, according to a Reuters report published yesterday. The report details court documents released by the two companies earlier in the week.

Google countered that Viacom managers continued to secretly upload content to YouTube even after the media company had filed the $1 billion copyright suit in March 2007.

“YouTube was intentionally built on infringement and there are countless internal YouTube communications demonstrating that YouTube’s founders and its employees intended to profit from that infringement,” Viacom said in a statement on Thursday, as the documents were released.

Most of the court evidence revolved around email exchanges between high level YouTube executives that dated back to the summer of 2005. The opening briefs in the Viacom vs YouTube lawsuit are viewed by many as a test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which YouTube believes protects it from Viacom’s claims.

The DMCA makes technology that circumvents anti-piracy measures illegal. But the law also limits the liability of providers of online services for copyright infringement by their users. The decision by the court will have far reaching ramifications on user generated content.

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