YouTube will cease to exist if it looses this lawsuit

For those not paying attention, Viacom  is suing YouTube  for $1 Billion for alledgedly posting copyrighted programs on the video sharing site. the various pieces of evicence are now becoming public providing an interesting insight into the ideas and values of the YouTube founders in the early days.It has also come to light that while Viacom is claiming the infringements it has actually uploaded their own content through a number of cover companies, even ‘roughing up’ the quality so it would look like members of the public had uploaded it.

At a first glance YouTube looks to hold the stronger cards but the emails from those early days will prove embarrasing at least and may sway a judge to doubt the ethics and motivations of the founders of one of the most popular sites in the world. This is what YouTube said in its defence on the YouTube blog:

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube. via YouTube Blog: Broadcast Yourself.

Techcrunch has published transcripts of all the documents and has published the email conversations. Here are a few one them. Techdirt has also stated their position in this interesting piece

n response (see SUF i155), YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim wrote: “well I’d just remove the obviously copyright infringing stuff. movies and tv shows, I’d get rid of. . . .leave music videos, news clips, and clips we’ll of comedy shows for now. I think thats a pretty good policy for now, no?”

In a September 3,2005 email to the two other YouTube co- founders, YouTube co-founder
Steve Chen responded to Jawed Karim’s suggestion that YouTube remove “obviously copyright infringing stuff’ (see SUF i156) by stating that “i know that if (we remove all that content. we go from 100,000 views a day down to about 20,000 views or maybe even lower. the copyright infringement stuff. i mean, we can presumably claim that we don’t know who owns the rights to that video and by uploading, the user is claiming they own that video. we’re protected by DMCA for that.we’ll take it down if we get a ‘cease and desist”‘; Jawed Karim replied: “my suggested polìcy is really lax though. . . . if we keep that polìcy I don’t think our views will decrease at alL. “

In a September 4, 2005 email to YouTube co- founder Jawed Karim and others at YouTube, a YouTube user stated: “Jawed – You have a lot of people posting Chappelle Show clips and stuff like that. Aren’t you guys worried that someone might sue you for copywrite (sic J violation like Napster?”; Karim replìed: “ahaha.”

Here’s an artice looking at both sides of this, very complicated, confrontation. Google executives have said that YouTube and similar sites will cease to exist if it looses this case. This does seem likely to some extend as it is claimed that 80% of the traffic comes from copyrighted video’s. The Viacom clips at stake alone were watched over 500 million times.

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses