Viacom Execs Wanted Badly To Buy YouTube; Cited Tons Of Legit Content And Possibilities

from the oops... dept

Viacom's case against Google and YouTube looks worse and worse each passing day. While we weren't that impressed by Google's mentioning the fact that Viacom tried to buy YouTube, back when the initial filings for summary judgment became public, as more details come out, this point actually highlights many more problems with Viacom's claims that YouTube was just a "video Grokster" that thrived on infringing uses. In fact, it looks like Viacom execs were literally trying to push each other aside in trying to get YouTube for their own uses:
MTVN CEO Judy McGrath telling M&A execs: "Help us get YouTube. We cannot see it go to Fox/NBC" and "I want to own YouTube. I think it's critical asnd if it goes to a competitior!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even if we have to buy it with a partner to keep it below the line." Then-Viacom CEO Tom Freston:"If we get UTube.... I wanna run it." McGrath: "You'll have to kill me to get to it first."

The e-mail that starts that last exchange between Freston and McGrath is more about Viacom than YouTube. "We know what to do. I know this SUCKS its MADDENING that the revenue isn't there when the content is....but we will fix it and get the stock back up. 'Accretive' digital acquisitions and a big idea or two. Fast."
Does that sound like execs talking about a company that is sucking them dry through infringing uses? Furthermore, it takes away much of the strength of Viacom's claims that Google is responsible for all this infringement because it bought YouTube knowing all this. Would Viacom begin suing itself if it had gotten its act together and bought YouTube?

Even more damning is the email exchange between Viacom General Counsel, Michael Fricklas, and Jason Hirschhorn:
"Mostly, YouTube behaves--and why not--user-generated content appears to be what's driving it right now. Also the difference between YouTube's behavior and Grokster's is staggering. while the supreme court's language IS broad; the precedent is not THAT broad."
Yes, that's from the guy who's now trying to convince the world that YouTube was a "video Grokster" and that it survived solely on infringing content. Ouch. Viacom is trying to diffuse those claims by saying that Fricklas was simply ignorant at the time (way to throw your GC under the bus...). Funny, of course, that's it's perfectly fine for Viacom execs to make statements and later retract them, but Viacom harps on statements by YouTube execs, that are taken totally out of context, as if they're gospel.

Separately, Fricklas has put out a "statement" on the case that reads like a blog post without a blog. It seems to highlight how this has really become more of a PR war than a legal war. Fricklas' argument falls down on numerous accounts, though. He compares YouTube to LimeWire, despite astounding differences between the two -- when even he knows the difference is "staggering." But the most ridiculous of all is the following:
Google is the world's leading search engine with a self-proclaimed mission to organize the world's information. However, when it comes to videos on YouTube, Google cynically claims that search is too difficult for them to execute effectively.
That's blatantly untrue and Fricklas knows it. No one is claiming that the search is too difficult. They're claiming that determining whether or not the content is infringing is too difficult, and that's supported by Fricklas' own inability to know which clips were infringing and which were uploaded by Viacom itself. If your own General Counsel can't tell what's infringing and what's not, how is it even close to reasonable to suggest that Google should be able to figure it out?

Also, the following is pretty low and also misleading:
Google claims it could not tell whether Viacom had authorized specific clips on YouTube -- and misleadingly and falsely implies that we're suing on clips we posted. The reality is simple: we are not suing about clips we posted.
No, it's not suing over clips it posted... any more. But the original lawsuit did include such clips until Viacom realized this and dropped those clips from the lawsuit. Pretending that never happened is simply trying to rewrite history.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 9:01am

    "We know what to do. I know this SUCKS its MADDENING that the revenue isn't there when the content is....but we will fix it and get the stock back up."

    Who was it that said this was only about infringement and preventing infringement? It's not only about preventing infringement, it's about restricting competition. IP maximists want to prevent anyone from competing with them, they don't want competition. and outside the Internet they have managed to pretty much destroy most competition by preventing newcomers from entering the market. IP maximists want to pass all these laws in an effort to stop competitors from entering the market. IP maximists are not just interested in preventing piracy, they want to stop others from distributing free alternative content that they don't profit from.

    Also see

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100518/2341299481.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Executive with an MBA, May 25th, 2010 @ 9:14am

    If I can't have it, no one can.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 9:57am

    spell check is free, Mike.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Re:

    spell check is free, Mike.

    No it isn't, you have to pay royalties to J.K. Rowling

    Spelling check on the other hand.......

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    spell check is free, Mike.


    Indeed, but I do sometimes make typos. If you point them out, we're quick to fix them. What did I misspell this time? Thanks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re:

    Would Viacom being suing itself it had gotten its act together and bought YouTube?

    Would Viacom begin suing itself . . . .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    . . . if it had gotten its act . . . .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure how spell-check is relevant in this case.

    Although, Mike's also missing an "if" there as well :D.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Cool, fixed. Though, yeah, spell check wouldn't have caught either, though, our editing review should have... Thanks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 11:05am

    simple solution ....

    "That's blatantly untrue and Fricklas knows it. No one is claiming that the search is too difficult. They're claiming that determining whether or not the content is infringing is too difficult, and that's supported by Fricklas' own inability to know which clips were infringing and which were uploaded by Viacom itself. If your own General Counsel can't tell what's infringing and what's not, how is it even close to reasonable to suggest that Google should be able to figure it out?"

    Here is a simple solution. If someone wants I can put together a plan and time line for it ...

    Ban all unauthorized big media content unless it is posted by the big media types. Make available creative commons music for videos. Make available a video library of clips anyone can use. Create a user and YouTube monitored certification system for the music and video clips. Done, fini, end of discussion.

    My bet is with in a week the big media types would get their collective asses handed to them by the bands and artists they represent. Anti big media, RIAA, ASCAP, etc blogging would go up. More music would be released to the creative commons to take advantage of this "no big media" rule.

    All in all it would be a good day for us all ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 11:08am

    Re: simple solution ....

    "Create a user and YouTube monitored certification system for the music and video clips."

    should read

    "Create a user and YouTube monitored certification system for the creative commons music and video clips."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    conversely, youtube tried to pay viacom 600 million for the use of their clips (but were turned down). not only is your spell check not working, but your desire to slam viacom is becoming all too evident.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    "not only is your spell check not working, but your desire to slam viacom is becoming all too evident."

    Hey TAM, not only are you not one to be pointing out grammer, spelling, syntax, or any other errors (the words were used incorrectly, but spelled correctly, learn the difference as well as how to use at least one of the SHIFT keys, m'kay), but what does Viacom refusing money from YouTube have to do with anything? All that shows is that they'd rather lose money out of spite than try and figure out how to actually make money in the new digital age.

    Your desire to slam Mike has been evident to all for quite some time. Despite the fact you don't have any idea what you're talking about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 4:21pm

    "Make available a video library of clips anyone can use. Create a user and YouTube monitored certification system for the music and video clips. Done, fini, end of discussion."

    That is already happening at least for music and books, and in a lesser level in the video segment, what people don't have is ways to find those things in an easy way yet, but that could change.

    As I see it the people who get the ad money and know how to do it are going to survive i.e. the tech companies. Microsoft started to fund their own content and could be building up to a point where they can simple say "F. You!" to media producers, Google also is working hard with its "Google TV" and they actually already have the channels and some content, so if those people don't embrace change now they are bound for a rude awakening in the future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 4:24pm

    Viacom should be viewed as Via Con-Artists LoL

    They have no shame in lying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2010 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Re:

    actually, it shows that youtube valued the infringing content so much that they were willing to pay multiples of what they offered others for similar content pools. for youtube to put a number like 500 or 600 million on the table is a clear indication that they knew the value of the content on their service. more than anything, it shows that each side was trying to buy each other off (or out) rather than the one sided situation mike attempted to portray.

    my desire to slam mike is moot, but that is makes it so easy makes it a pleasure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 6:04pm

    Re:

    Grammar checking is free also. Didn't you know you start a sentence with a capital letter?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Hoeppner, May 25th, 2010 @ 6:08pm

    Re:

    While infringing content on video sites are hardly damaging(or at least A LOT less costly than legal fees getting tossed around).

    A company should not have to compete with themselves. The thought of having to compete with yourself sounds like it would be a maddening thought that would encourage over reaction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 6:49pm

    Re: simple solution ....

    Why not just stop buying any of the stuff from the big media companies.You folks out there do not have to support the RIAA,MPAA,etc the solution is if you need to own a movie or record then go and buy it used.
    If you all did that and got even more folks to do it soon there might be a lot of folks buying used stuff and stopping the greedsters from getting a dime.
    If you just ignore the issue it may just get worse.We all want to see an open Internet not one where they own the content and you are thrown off after "3 strikes" and even more garbage.
    Fight Back Now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Modplan (profile), May 25th, 2010 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, it shows Viacom was a bitter idiot in turning down that money and instead deciding to spend money on expensive legal action where their actions have continually shown them to be incompetent, especially when they had previously been explicitly trying to buy Youtube so they could use it for their content. Now Google wants to pay them to have content on there? How can we do that! We might have to actually compete with others on content!

    But keep making crap up. Perhaps you'd be more successful if you want back to talk of bootstrapping.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2010 @ 4:48am

    Re: Re:

    No, read what it says after.

    "'Accretive' digital acquisitions"

    In other words, they want to acquire the digital resources of others, the content (from others) is out there but the revenue (for them) is not.

    Don't ignore the context of the text. If you read most of the text

    http://www.google.com/press/youtube_viacom_documents.html

    (actually click on the links and stop being lazy for once TAM. I know, not being lazy is very difficult for an IP maximist since IP maximists are inherently lazy) you would see that they are referring to the content of others and mostly to user generated content. The user generated content is out there but the revenue is not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2010 @ 4:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "actually, it shows that youtube valued the infringing content"

    Actually, the fact that they offered Viacom money to use their content shows that Youtube never intended to infringe.

    It's not infringing content if Youtube pays Viacom or if Youtube never infringed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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