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Google Holds $200m to Defend YouTube Copyright Claims

Just last week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt denied there was any truth to the rumors that the company would set aside $500 million from the YouTube deal, to protect against any copyright infringement suits.

Today, we get one more example of why you can never truly take what Google says at face value. While Schmidt didn’t lie, we learn he was very careful in his reply, as Google has in fact set aside $200+ million for such law suits.

I’ve said for many years that statements such as “we have no current plans” or “we do not intend” have no weight, when coming from Google.

Now, of course, every video publisher knows they can sue Google for copyright infringement, safe in the knowledge there’s a cool $200m to share.

YouTube Shows Double Standard with Cease & Desist Letter

If Michael Arrington hadn’t posted the actual cease and desist letter from YouTube’s attorney, I probably wouldn’t have believed the company had asked him to remove a tool that allows people to download and store YouTube videos.

It’s extremely hypocritical that YouTube so freely violates the copyright of so many video creators, yet feel they need to prevent others from accessing their content – which isn’t even there’s, as Arrington explains.

Given that downloads, with proper copyright attribution, are permitted under the Terms of Use, it seems like there is no problem at all for a user to download a video for personal use and put it on his or her iPod.

Arrington further suggests that this could just be YouTube covering its butt, by sending the letter, with no real intention of following-up. Either way, the letter is plain crazy.

YouTube Asked to Remove Comedy Central Videos

The soon to be acquired, YouTube, has received a request from Viacom to remove videos of some Comedy Central shows.

The source said Viacom, owner of the Comedy Central cable network, had sent a letter last Friday requesting that some of its shows — including the popular “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and those from MTV Networks and BET — be purged from the site.

While some might start questioning the viability of YouTube – if they’ll continue to receive such requests – I tend to look at this as a positive for the company.

A positive, I hear you ask? If you think about it, each time YouTube receives one of these requests, it learns two things:

Does Google Penalty Equate to Defamation?

The Kinderstart.com case has taken an interesting twist, as the judge decides whether receiving a 0/10 PageRank penalty from Google equate to the legal definition of defamation.

The judge asked whether Google has a free speech right to prioritize some sites over others in how it constructs computer formulas in its search system. “Assuming Google is saying that KinderStart’s Web site isn’t worth seeing. Why can’t they say that? That’s my question,” Fogel said.

Kinderstart is obviously grasping at straws here. If the judge rules that indeed a Google penalty equals defamation, that would set a dangerous precedent. It would take a brave judge to start interfering with what Google can and cannot do to search rankings.

Zillow Faces Attack Over Inaccurate Real Estate Estimates

CNET is reporting real estate info site, Zillow, has had an FTC complaint filed against it for posting misleading home pricing estimates.

In its complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition states that Zillow is “intentionally misleading consumers and real-estate professionals to rely upon the accuracy of its valuation services despite the full knowledge of the company officials that their valuation Automated Valuation Model (AVM) mechanism is highly inaccurate and misleading.”

I think the claim is bogus. Zillow is just a research site. You can’t sue it for publishing real estate estimates, anymore than you can sue Jupiter or Nielsen for their research studies.

Google’s Belgian Battle: Mountain or Molehill?

Business Week takes a look at what’s at stake in the battle between Google and Belgian publishers.

It’s an interesting read, especially when the publishers concede they’re getting a lot of traffic from Google then go on to use that as evidence the company needs to be stopped.

Since the Belgian court decision went into effect and Google dropped IPM publications, traffic to the company’s sites has dropped about 15%, le Hodey concedes. Yet that only strengthens his sense that Google should be checked before it gets even more powerful.

BW also gives us an explanation of what the Europeans are trying to create with their Robots.txt alternative.

…a set of sophisticated software “tags” readable by search engines’ Web crawlers that would automatically tell aggregators under what terms they can use editorial content.

Google Explains the Ridiculousness of Belgian Ruling – Round 6

Google’s taken the opportunity to explain their side of the recent Belgian court ruling.

Here’s precisely why the court case is somewhat ridiculous…

…showing snippets of text and linking users to the websites where the information resides is what makes them so useful. And after all, it’s not just users that benefit from these links but publishers do too — because we drive huge amounts of web traffic to their sites.