Google fires back at Viacom

Ashley Milne-Tyte May 1, 2007

SCOTT JAGOW: A few weeks ago, the entertainment company Viacom filed a massive lawsuit against Google. Viacom said Google’s Web site, YouTube, is trampling copyright laws. Viacom wants more than $1 billion because YouTube posted thousands of video clips from MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures and other shows. Late yesterday, Google filed its rebuttal — Ashley Milne-Tyte tells us about it.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Google says the law is on its side, and that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects companies that host Internet content from lawsuits over copyright infringement — infringement that their users commit. The idea was that if Internet companies had to be responsible for copyright breaches, they couldn’t afford to keep innovating.

Siva Vaidhyanathan teaches culture and communication at NYU. He says Viacom now wants to switch responsibility for the policing of content to the Web sitesa€¦

SIVA VAIDYANATHAN: And that’s going to be a pretty major and radical change if it goes through. So I’m pretty sure that the courts are going to see that Congress thought this through in the ’90s, and that ultimately Google will prevail.

The two sides go to court in July. Vaidhyanathan says if Viacom wins it’ll be a blow to competition. Companies would be put off by the prospect of the money required to focus on copyrights and fend off lawsuits.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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