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YouTube Responds to Latest Viacom Authored Lawsuit

May 27, 2008

Google Inc’s lawyers responded to a recent lawsuit on Friday, which claims that its video-sharing site YouTube has opened the door to “an explosion of copyright infringement” via the Web.

The $1 billion lawsuit is the latest in a series of court battles between Viacom Inc. and YouTube’s owners.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Google’s lawyers wrote that the recent copyright infringement suit “threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression.”

Last year, Viacom hit YouTube with a lawsuit claiming that it was owed damages for the unauthorized exchange of its programming from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks, including clips and entire episodes of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

In August 2007, Viacom claimed that YouTube has “profited enormously from this infringement. A substantial part of the $1.65 billion price that Google paid for YouTube reflects an enterprise value built on infringement of Viacom’s copyrights.”

Google claims YouTube has been adherent to the rules put in place by the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Lawyers added that the federal law was intended to protect companies like YouTube as long as they responded properly to content owners’ claims of infringement.

However, Viacom says YouTube has been consistent in allowing unauthorized copies of television programming and movies to be posted on its Web site and viewed tens of thousands of times.

More than 150,000 unauthorized clips of copyrighted programming – including “SpongeBob SquarePants,”"South Park” and “MTV Unplugged” episodes and the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” – that have been viewed “an astounding 1.5 billion times,” not to mention the countless other copyright-protected programming that has been dispersed across its site, Viacom said.

It said Google and YouTube had done “little or nothing” to stop infringement.

“To the contrary, 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,” Viacom said.

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