Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Collateral Damage Takedown Victims Start Suing Viacom

from the our-lovely-legal-system-at-work dept

While Viacom is busy basking in the glow of its pointless lawsuit against YouTube, its lawyers may be busy on a separate, but related front. Back when the company demanded Google take down certain clips, among the takedown notices were a fair number of videos that the company had no rights over -- which of course were still taken down. It's important to note, however, that when you file a DMCA takedown notice, part of that claim is that you insist you own the rights to that content. It appears that at least some of those who were the victims of this collateral damage are now turning around and suing Viacom for taking their content offline with bogus DMCA claims. Viacom is trying to brush off these claims by suggesting it's no big deal that a few legitimate videos were taken down, since it was in the process of taking down so many actual infringing videos. Of course, that's small comfort to the people who actually wanted their videos on YouTube. It's amusing (but not surprising) that Viacom can claim that its copyrights are so important while ignoring the rights of others.

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  1. identicon
    jordan, 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:28pm


    good for you, that was very informative.

    anyway, what are they suing for, money or an apology?

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

  2. identicon
    Chris, 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:45pm

    lol, google should offer legal support to all the people and get viacom to drop the lawsuit in return for not getting themselves sued out the ass.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2007 @ 8:53pm

    the only ones that will be happy with all these lawsuits are the fat lawyers

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

  4. identicon
    DCX2, 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:12pm


    is a bitch.

    I think they should sue for triple damages. Willful infringement - Viacom openly admits not caring.

    I'm thinking...class action lawsuit. Come on, there's gotta be some evil lawyer somewhere that could actually do the world some good for once...

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

  5. identicon
    Derrick Hinkle, 15 Mar 2007 @ 9:20pm

    Viacom Sucks

    Viacom sucks, and now as DXC2 said, Karma is a bitch. They're actions are coming back to bite them as it should be. They're so worried about their technical rights and their little scrounge of profit over any sort of real source of income from flow of their content, and so stuck on their own niche market and ancient buisness model that they can't adapt.

    They then proceed to turn around and act like they did no harm when they did the same done to them. Their have as many sides as dice if not more.

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

  6. identicon
    Chris, 16 Mar 2007 @ 12:12am

    Re: Viacom Sucks

    Mr. Hinkle, if English isn't your primary language, then I can forgive the horrendous missues of the "their" and "they're." Otherwise seriously, wtf?

    As far as Viacom being held liable, im sure some lawyer will insist that it was Googles fault, not Viacom, that the wrong media was removed. It's not like they themselves were given the right to access the database and delete whatever they saw fit. Anyway I'm hopefull a judge will drop both cases.

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

  7. identicon
    EdB, 16 Mar 2007 @ 4:00am

    Re: Re: Viacom Sucks

    chris yur stoopid. stop akting like all peeps have to know english the way u like it.

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

  8. identicon
    I. P. Wright, 16 Mar 2007 @ 5:18am

    IP Rights

    The fact is Viacom's rights were violated en masse by Google, Youtube, and their patrons. Outrage over that for a while. Or, let me know where you live so I can take most of your possessions and put them in the park for everyone to use for free. Then I can talk about how unreasonable you are to want them back, especially when everyone is enjoying them so much without your permission. Yeah, that'd be stupid, wouldn't it? Think.

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

  9. identicon
    I.P. Wrong, 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:00am

    YouTube/Google is not at fault, in the same way as the park you cite is not at fault.

    And as has previously been reported (tho' that may be wrong, of course), Viacom had to list the clips it wanted removing... all YouTube did was honour that list.

    So the faulty removal of non-Viacom owned content is entirely Viacom's fault.

    Think on...

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

  10. identicon
    billy, 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:02am


    Re # 7
    rofl, nice

    To the article:
    I am just glad that the people aren't stupid enough to sue Google because it is not their fault. They were following a law, however stupid and flawed it is. I am amazed to see the people being hurt actually suing the right people for a change. It is usually some user hurt by somebody's stupid video they took of the stupider person doing something incredibly stupid. And then the fool goes and sues Google because its apparently Google's fault that they did something embarrassing and somebody else put it online.

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

  11. identicon
    YouKnowNothing, 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:16am

    Re: IP Rights

    "...let me know where you live so I can take most of your possessions and put them in the park for everyone to use for free."

    Flawed analogy. You're conflating intellectual property with real, tangible property. Please don't do that.

    A better analogy would be if you took a magic wand and made *exact duplicates* of most of my possessions and put them in a park for everyone to use for free. I would still retain possessions of most of my possessions, and couldn't care less if everyone freely used those exact duplicates in a park somewhere.

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

  12. identicon
    Paul, 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:22am

    Re: IP Rights

    Google was just as wrong as your analogy. You can't compare physical goods and digital goods in the way you're doing so. It completely invalidates the argument. When you take them, I no longer have it. If you copy digital content, I still have it, therefore I'm not at a true loss. Any losses, if any, come from the loss of revenue. if there is a loss, however, its not youtube's fault. its those who uploaded it. its like blaming the UofM for filesharing when its the students themselves who are doing the sharing. you can't blame the platform, you gotta blame THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY PERFORMING THE MISDEED. PEOPLE NEED TO LEARN TO FOCUS ON THAT.

    Also, Viacom is at fault because they wrongly claimed they owned something and based on that claim, YouTube followed the law (which they're good at) and removed it.

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

  13. identicon
    Grammer Police, 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Viacom Sucks


    Welcome to the web Jacka**.

    If you don't like they're grammer go back to print.

    Your on-topic remark is useless too!

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

  14. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 16 Mar 2007 @ 7:25am

    How about this analogy?

    I think you may have missed the issue in your analogy commentor #8.

    Imagine if I run a radio station. On said station I play established and unknown rock bands. A few dozen known rock bands (I mean huge like Metallica, Rolling Stones, and Korn) gives a list of the songs that they claim to own the rights to and tells me to remove them. On that list are a few songs that do not belong to any of those bands but belong to your underground band. How is it right for them to claim ownership of your material? How would you feel if when you called them on it they basically just say, "Oh well, so what?"

    Viacom was so adamant in defending the rights of there own content but they somehow managed to not verify that the list of content they wanted removed was really theirs? I'm willing to bet that if they had missed some of their content they would write up another removal order quick, fast and in a damn hurry. Owning a lot of content does not excuse you from veryfing what you own and it most certainly does not give you permission to write up mass removal orders under the justification that the content "might be yours."

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

  15. identicon
    Wizard Prang, 16 Mar 2007 @ 8:04am

    What "rights"?

    First up, there is no such thing as "Intellectual Property".

    Secondly, rights to what? If Google were robbing them of their rights to profit from their stuff, or costing them something, then naturally they should be held to account.

    However, if this is just Viacom pounding their chests and yodeling "It's our Stuuuuuuff", then they should be thrown out on their ear and slapped with a "Don't do that again" injunction. It appears to me that Google is doing a great job giving Viacom free publicity.

    This is all secondary to the fact that Copyright laws need a major rewrite - this time with the public at the table.

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2007 @ 9:58am

    Re: What "rights"?

    First up, there's no such things as "rights to profit."

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

  17. identicon
    poploser, 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Viacom Sucks

    Dude, a guy with at least three typos in his post has no right to question someone else's command of English. ;)

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

  18. identicon
    Jack, 16 Mar 2007 @ 10:43am

    For those who think this is no big deal, suppose you had a web site or a blog or a profile on MySpace and some big company claimed that whatever you had written was theirs, and had it taken down? Assuming you had written every word yourself, I daresay you'd be pretty pissed. Same difference.

    The problem is that big corporations can get away with things that you couldn't. For example, let's say you owe one of the utility companies that provides service to your home some money - after a couple of months of no payment they will send someone around to shut off your service, which is fine, except for one thing. Ever had THEM owe YOU money, for example from cutting down a tree on your property that they had no legal right to cut, or tearing up your lawn while laying new pipes or cables? IF they bother to compensate you at all, it will likely take a lot longer than two months, and a lot of your time and effort to get them to pay off. In a fair and just world, after two months of non-payment, you could go out and dig up their cables or pipes and at least sell the metal for scrap to recover your loss - but if YOU try that, you'd wind up in jail. See, YOU have to go to court and get a judgment to exercise your remedies, but big corporations somehow get to skip that whole court thing and get to just take action against you... and very often they have specific legislation that protects them in that, as though your lawmakers just assume that big corporations can do no wrong.

    Someday, maybe voters will actually stop voting for politicians that bend over for any big corporation that throws a campaign contribution their way. Unfortunately the voters have not yet become sufficiently disgusted with this sort of behavior by politicians. Maybe it will take a generation or two of oppression by the big corporations before people finally figure out that the corporation is a soulless, often evil entity with no sense of conscience (with rare exceptions, where the people in charge actually feel responsible to do the right thing). In the vast majority of cases the corporation exists only to maximize profits for their shareholders or owners, and the the morality of their actions is a very low priority on their list of considerations prior to taking any action.

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

  19. identicon
    A non-slave IT guy, 16 Mar 2007 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Viacom Sucks

    RE #6, Chris

    Tell me this is a joke. A troll. There is no way this guy wrote a criticism of someone else's supposedly poor use of the language while making even more mistakes himself??!!

    Reading what is written on the Internet is an exercise in mental gymnastics. I go back and forth between laughing, screaming and just sighing in sad resignation.

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

  20. identicon
    pixelm, 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:30pm

    Just the Facts

    Folks - viacom manually reviewed more than 1.8 MILLION clips on YouTube and sent more than 150,000 takedown notices. About 150 were in error. As soon as Viacom became aware of ANY errors, it sent retractions to YouTube - usually within the day. Not sure how anyone could be more careful than that.

    In the short run, in small doses, infringement makes everyone happy. In the long run, in large ones, songs stop getting recorded, television shows stop getting made. Viacom can protect itself, but the principle Viacom is defending protects artists and creators big AND small. YouTube sells ads and makes money on the site. Copyright owners without a Youtube deal don't. It seems simple to me that it's entirely unfair to allow YouTube to profit and not protect against the damage.

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

  21. identicon
    Rob, 16 Mar 2007 @ 6:49pm

    "manually reviewed more than 1.8 MILLION clips"? I doubt it.

    If manual review takes around 10 seconds each, do the math and think about how many man-years of effort this would be.

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

  22. identicon
    Phil Wolff, 16 Mar 2007 @ 9:20pm

    Re: Viacom

    5000 person-hours at 10 seconds a clip. Let's make it longer, a full minute per clip: 30k hours. Let's say a person works an effective 120 hours in a month.That would make this 250 person-months. 100 people for 10 weeks, perhaps offshored? Even at $2k per person-month, $500k isn't too much for a suit this large. Especially with per-instance penalties part of the upside.

    I imagine that some technology could filter the content, boosting accuracy and productivity ten-fold.

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

  23. identicon
    manster, 17 Mar 2007 @ 10:12am

    Re: IP Rights

    this only works if they copy all of your possesions then do as you said hmmmmmm no damage and no real loss if they want to protect there property then write it to a read once media and stop trying to bleed the average guy who doesent have much like always viacom and others arent worried about the artist only their virtual dollars money that realy isnt there the possible sales are what they might have made in profit is what they want its there fault if you write a harrypotter novel on a giant billboard and eveyone sees it then you sell copies you r the idiot there are pencils and paper the odds are it would be coppied thats where we are you need to get perspective and not choose a emotionless corp that would rather see you as a braindead consumer buy wht they have to sell no matter its content and for viacom stop crying

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

  24. identicon
    Hersh, 19 Mar 2007 @ 10:48am

    This is bad news for Google. Not so much Viacom

    This lawsuit is going to create more problems for Google.

    The only way Google is going to be able to avoid future lawsuits from other content companies like Viacom is by hammering out some sort of agreement with them to allow their content to be shown via Youtube/Gvideo. The problem is any agreement that is satisfactory to the content companies is going to involve some level of oversight by the content companies over what and how much of their content is posted for free. In addition Google will probably always be responsible for taking down unauthorized content in a reasonable amount of time.

    Now if content companies come under scrutiny themselves for wrongly removing content--if user lawsuits continue--then why would these content companies want to continue to take responsibility for removing their illegally posted content? They might just as well tell Google to do it itself, as it is Google's responsibility according to current law to make sure pirated content is taken down. But does Google want that headache? How is Google going to identify what is copyrighted material?

    Its in Google's interest that content companies feel comfortable policing their own content. This lawsuit doesn't make them comfortable. In fact I suspect Google will come down on Viacom's side on this one.

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

  25. identicon
    Wizard Prang, 22 Mar 2007 @ 11:08am

    Right to profit

    "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

    US Constitution, Section 8

    That "exclusive right" includes the right to profit from their stuff.

    Keep taking the pills...

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

  26. identicon
    Wizard Prang, 22 Mar 2007 @ 12:16pm

    We have a contender...

    ...for the "my punctuation and shift keys don't work" award.

    I'm no perfectionist, but that massive run-on-sentence is seriously hard to read.

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

  27. identicon
    Wizard Prang, 24 Mar 2007 @ 9:56am

    Worse for Viacom, in my book.

    First there is the loss of exposure that Google Video provides.

    Secondly there is the backlash from the collateral takedowns.

    Thirdly, I will be less inclined to consume Viacom's products (Paramount, Dreamworks etc), and neither will anyone I know.

    Viacom may have the legal high ground, but Google have less to lose. Besides... who loses when a couple of million geeks start telling their friends not to buy Shrek XVII?

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

  28. identicon
    TW, 1 Apr 2007 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Viacom Sucks

    Mr. Chris,

    Since you were so hard on Mr. Hinkle for his various usages of their and they're I'm not sure that I can forgive your lack of understanding of the use of the apostrophe when writing the possessive and contractions, nor your ability to comprehend the simple rule that 'I' should always be capitalized.

    Irony is the best comedy.

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

  29. identicon
    ClawdWolf, 3 Nov 2013 @ 10:39am


    Hey every one should hate Viacom they make sexual toys they are suing youtube for putting up some videos that are theirs withour promishion but why why

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

  30. identicon
    ClawdWolf, 3 Nov 2013 @ 10:46am

    I think we should all be against Viacom if you are wondering who is running Viacom it's sunder red stone we need to shut down Viacom p.s pleas do not right bad things if you do you picked the wrong person to mess with I will f*ck you up if you do mess with me

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

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