YouTube wins Viacom case, we lose entertainment

June 25, 2010: 12:22 AM ET

I'll be sad to no longer see those embarrassing documents coming out of the court proceedings.  Here's a recap.

Clip from Viacom's Daily Show on YouTube

"YouTube wins its case against Viacom" or  "The Court Ruling" either way, it was a serious case involving billions of dollars...but it was also quite entertaining to read the details.

Jon Stewart on Viacom subsidiary Comedy Central does the backstory.

The news is good for YouTube and the people who like to share their videos.  It's bad for Viacom (VIA) and the traditional media who might not like their content to be shared openly.

Or specifically, "the court has decided that YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online."

But what it means to me is that we'll no longer get to look into the respective companies court documents for entertainment.  For instance, YouTube outed these from Viacom:

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.

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.

That's comedy gold!

But YouTube had some gems of their own:

"Ok man, save your meal money for some lawsuits! ;) no really, I guess we'll just see what happens," co-founder Chad Hurley tells partners Steve Chen and Jawed Karim via email in July 2005, as the three men decide to leave some copyrighted stuff on the site.

And these:

In Feb. 2005, YouTube's goals were to "aim high" and be considered at the level of Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent in terms of the number of users and buzz. In April 2005, Karim wrote his co-founders, "It's all 'bout da videos, yo. We'll be an excellent acquisition target once we're huge." Also in April 2005, Hurley appeared concerned about the presence of a South Park clip on YouTube and questioned whether it should be left on the site because "it's copyrighted material."

But now, with the win in his pocket, YouTube CEO Chad Hurley today Tweeted:

A good day for YouTube... a good day for the internet! Excited to finally share the news...

There is still some comedy there.

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About This Author
Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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