Viacom on Thursday highlighted excerpts from newly released documents in its copyright-infringement battle with Google and YouTube, including a May 2006 presentation by a Google executive that said, "YouTube's business model is completely sustained by pirated content."
In a separate June 2006 presentation, forwarded to Google CEO Eric Schmidt and company founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, two executives suggested that the company could "coax or force access to viral premium content."
Google could "[t]hreaten a change in copyright policy as part of a PR campaign complaining about harm to users' interests through content owner foot-dragging -- use threat to get standard deal sign-up," according to the presentation.
The documents were among nine unsealed in the case Thursday, after the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York allowed the release of hundreds of pages of documents in March. Viacom has charged YouTube with "massive intentional copyright infringement of Viacom's entertainment properties" and is seeking at least $1 billion in damages.
"Taken together, these exhibits make clear one of our core claims in
the case: that Google made a deliberate, calculated business decision
not only to profit from copyright infringement, but also to use the
threat of copyright infringement to try to coerce rights owners like
Viacom into licensing their content on Google's terms," Stanley
Pierre-Louis, Viacom's vice president and associate general counsel for
intellectual property and content protection, wrote in a statement.
In a statement Google said: "It's revealing that Viacom is trying to litigate this case in the press. These documents aren't new. They are taken out of context and have nothing to do with this lawsuit."
Previously, Google and YouTube have claimed protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which grants online service providers immunity from copyright liability if they remove unauthorized content after they receive a "takedown" notice from the copyright holder.
In addition, according to Google, Viacom "continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube" and deliberately made them look stolen or leaked, which made it especially difficult to determine which videos were unauthorized.
But Viacom's Pierre-Louis pointed out that before Google acquired YouTube in October 2006 in a $1.65 billion deal, Google "made reasonable efforts" to keep infringing material off its own video site. "Indeed, Google persisted in these copyright-respectful practices even as YouTube gained ground through its illegal acts; and Google did so because its employees knew full well that the YouTube approach was both illegal and wrong," he wrote.
Viacom also has argued that Google's claim of protection under the DMCA is disingenuous: "YouTube and Google made a calculated business decision to use other people's copyrighted content as their start-up capital," Pierre-Louis said.