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Viacom: Copyright Detection or Not, Lawsuit Still On!




Google unveiled its long-awaited copyright detection system for YouTube earlier this week. But for at least one company, it’s not enough. According to MediaPost, Viacom says the law suit is still on.

Although he welcomed the technology, Viacom attorney Donald Verrilli then characterized the fix as too little, too late. “We’d have been a lot happier if they’d put this in place when they launched,” he said during the scheduling conference.

This week, Mike Fricklas, Viacom General Counsel, offered a slightly more conciliatory response: “We’re delighted that Google appears to be stepping up to its responsibility and ending the practice of profiting from infringement.”

Viacom will continue to pursue the suit seeking past damages:

“The new technology obviously has no bearing on the past,” Zweig said, adding: “And we don’t even know if the technology works yet.”

In addition, Google’s new content-fingerprinting tool cannot block users from posting potentially infringing content, and it requires that media companies like Viacom spend valuable time and man hours uploading content to Google’s database.

Unless Viacom is willing to take that “leap of faith” required to test the copyright protection tool, personally I don’t think they should be laughed out of court. While I understand that many are surprised at the requirement that copyright owners upload their content, really, how else is a tool going to be able to compare uploaded clips to copyrighted ones?

In some ways, it’s quite similar to Google’s policy on using trademarked terms in AdWords ads. You may own the copyright or trademark, but if you want Google to do something about other people using your property in a way that you don’t like, you’re going to have to file with them.

What do you think? Should Viacom have to jump through Google’s hoops, or just get what they want “the easy way” in the courts?

Update: P. Kevin Smith, Senior Vice President of LTU Technologies tells us that reactive measures are the only way to preserve the spirit of online video sharing. “The only way to preemptively or instantly stop copyright infringement would be to limit users’ ability to upload content, and that would destroy the spirit of what makes these sharing networks successful. In the meantime, the ability to quickly identify unauthorized content – even if still reactive – is the best option for both companies like YouTube and the content owners themselves.”

  • http://www.soberpursuit.com Acton

    Too bad their first response is lawsuit. There are a lot of good shows I never would have known about if it weren’t for there being clips on YouTube. The Office being one of them.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    In some ways I can’t blame Viacom. They shouldn’t have to jump through Google hoops in order for Google not to violate their copyright.

    On the other hand I think it’s becoming near impossible to protect all copyright online. It’s simply too easy to do something with someone else’s content. I’ve been thinking lately that the laws are going to need to change in some way to reflect the new reality.