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Mar 21 2010

Viacom uploaded clips to Youtube then sued Youtube for hosting them!

Seriously, it’s like tonight’s internet surfing session is somehow intentionally trying to make my blood boil. You know that whole Viacom vs Youtube debacle, where Viacom’s been suing Youtube repeatedly for posters violating their copyrights? Well, it turns out that the whole while, employees within Viacom have been posting videos themselves in order to benefit from the free publicity that Youtube’s use represents. And nobody knows exactly how many of the clips in question in this court case were uploaded by Viacom themselves — not even their employees.

Viacom’s efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

Given Viacom’s own actions, there is no way YouTube could ever have known which Viacom content was and was not authorized to be on the site. But Viacom thinks YouTube should somehow have figured it out. The legal rule that Viacom seeks would require YouTube — and every Web platform — to investigate and police all content users upload, and would subject those web sites to crushing liability if they get it wrong.

This is how you completely lose the sympathy of everyone on the internet. You abuse the copyright system in such a gross manner and expect to still reap the dividends of your activities, all while making a tidy side-profit from suing the very service you’re using, for failing to somehow magically know that the clips you’re uploading are copyright to Viacom. As far as I’m concerned, for doing this, Viacom not only knowingly forfeited their rights to any clip they’ve uploaded, they’ve forfeited any benefit of the doubt in future copyright claims. I honestly hope this shifts the burden of copyright protection back onto the companies whose copyrights they feel are in need of protecting, rather than on the free services that individual users might happen to abuse. Especially when “abuse” actually serves to help promote the very content that they’re seeking to protect.

Welcome to the new digital age, Viacom. The existence of the Internet is not a dangerous thing to your copyrights — if anything, having a clip by Stewart or Colbert “go viral” is only going to drive more viewers to your shows. Wise up and learn how to make a profit from this new age. Evolve, as they say, or die.

2 comments

  1. 1
    Miranda

    Unless there is some subtle legal point here that I’m missing, (and I don’t really know American law…) I would hope that any Judge worth their salt with throw this out of their Courtroom.
    Then again, it is the states, it’s possible Viacom could not only have their case heard but could actually win.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    I forgot to include the link to the BoingBoing source for the story originally. Oops. It’s here. Putting it in the post now as well.

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