Fresh details have come to light in the Google vs. Viacom lawsuit, the biggest lawsuit ever filed — one billion dollars. That's a lot of zeroes. The court filings were unsealed late last week, and reveal some tales of nefariousness on both sides.
YouTube founder Chad Hurley's supposed "lost emails" from the case's most crucial time in 2006 turned up on another employees computer. Among things that were said by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen or Jawed Karim: "80 percent of user traffic depended on pirated videos," and "We’re going to have a tough time defending the fact that we’re not liable for the copyrighted material on the site because we didn’t put it up when one of the co-founders is blatantly stealing content from other sites and trying to get everyone to see it."
Viacom on the other hand, had their own tricks: at the same time that they were crying over their content like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report being available "illegally" on YouTube, they were sending Viacom employees to offsite locations like Kinko's to upload copies of the shows to YouTube. The desired effect: get a viral awareness of Viacom's shows that only YouTube could provide, while at the same time suing YouTube for copyright infringement.
This will bring the Digital Millenium Copyright Act thing to full boil as they decide how and when copyrighted media gets played and paid for on the web.
One thing's for sure ... both Congress and the Supreme Court seem to not want to get involved until they have to.
On one side, you've got Google's YouTube, playing the videos, raising the profile of all the bands and TV shows involved while playing other people's media. On the other side, you've got Sumner Redstone and the Viacom part of his empire, as well as ownership of a lot of those videos. The cage match begins.
Questions that come to mind: what about all of the individual web sites and blogs that embedded YouTube videos in their site? Are they liable for copyright infringement or royalties, or is that YouTube's bad? Also, who's responsible on the YouTube side, the uploader or YouTube? That sounds like the P2P thing all over again, when both the P2P peeps and the uploaders were both pursued by the copyright holders from the RIAA. Plus, now there's a legal precedent, or at least a practiced negotiation history to look back at in this time around.