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Google Answers Viacom's Copyright Suit

27 May, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

Viacom Inc.'s $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube parent Google Inc. threatens the way people use the Internet to exchange information, Google said in a court filing May 23.

The filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan was an answer to Viacom's lawsuit, first filed last March, which contends that more than a 160,000 copyrighted clips on YouTube have appeared, including clips from MTV and Comedy Central.

“By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom's complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment, and political and artistic expression,” the court papers filed by Google read. “Defendants admit that YouTube encourages users to upload video clips to the service that the users have the right to upload, and that clips uploaded to the service are typically available for viewing free of charge by members of the public who have Internet access.”

Google is resting its case on the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), saying the 1998 federal law protects YouTube's content because the company responds to complaints of copyright violations by removing the suspect content.

“Congress recognized that such services could not and would not exist if they faced liability for copyright infringement based on materials users uploaded to their services,” the Google filing stated. “It chose to immunize these services from copyright liability provided they are properly responsive to notices of alleged infringement from content owners.

“Looking at the online world today, there is no question that Congress made the correct policy choice. Legitimate services like YouTube provide the world with free and authorized access to extraordinary libraries of information that would not be available without the DMCA — information created by users who have every right to share it. YouTube fulfills Congress's vision for the DMCA. YouTube also fulfills its end of the DMCA bargain, and indeed goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works.”

Google concludes its filing by asking for a dismissal of Viacom's suit.

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