YouTube, Viacom fight gets nasty

 YouTube has made a staggering new
accusation against media conglomerate Viacom that threatens to undermine its
case against the video sharing site, as a court prepares to rule on the 2007 lawsuit suing Google-YouTube for $1 billion in damages.

 In its suit, Viacom claimed that YouTube founders permit unauthorised uploads
of copyrighted content to the video sharing site to be viewed by thousands of
users, including TV shows such as South Park, Spongebob Squarepants and MTV
Unplugged.

 According to the BBC, YouTube has always maintained that it has followed the
laws of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which states that
publishers are not responsible for material posted by users, and says that it
has always removed unauthorised videos when notified of their presence by the
copyright owner.

 Indeed, YouTube complied by taking down more than 100,000 clips identified as
belonging to the conglomerate in 2007, but Viacom still claims that YouTube’s
founders deliberately flouted copyright and encouraged unauthorised uploading
of their content to boost trafficto the site.    

 Viacom scored an early victory in the drawn-out case as a federal court ruling
ordered Goolgle to release the viewing
history of all YouTube users in July 2008. The state of play may all change however;
in light of a new accusation by YouTube that Viacom has been deliberately
uploading its own content to the site in secret, while publicly complaining
about its presence.

 In a blog post, YouTube’s chief counsel, Zahavah Levine, said: “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.”

 Both parties have been given until 30 April to file their oppositions to each
other’s motions, and arguments are expected to be completed by June, when the
future of the world’s most popular video sharing site could hang in the
balance.

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