I had pointed this out in a comment
yesterday, but with so many press reports suggesting that Viacom's filing found some sort of "smoking gun" in the YouTube emails concerning founders talking about "stealing" videos, it's worth pointing out that Viacom appears to have taken these quotes totally out of context. Thankfully, TechCrunch is putting some of them right back into context and noticing that Viacom is clearly misrepresenting what YouTube's founders were talking about
. The key quote that Viacom (and many in the press) are highlighting is the following:
In a July 29,2005 email about competing video websites, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen wrote to YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim, "steal it!", and Chad Hurley responded: "hmm, steal the movies?"
That looks damning, right? Except the context shows that they weren't talking about copyright infringement of big name Hollywood content at all. They were talking about looking at other viral video sites
that were popular on the fringes at the time -- usually showing random silly homemade videos that went viral and putting those
videos on YouTube. Furthermore, when you see the full discussion, you can see that in the context, they were joking
about taking that content. Really, they were discussing what kind of site they wanted YouTube to be: should it be for more serious videos, or should they focus on those kinds of traffic-getting viral videos. In fact, in the context of the discussion, they play up the fact that their content is user-generated, rather than pulled from outside sources:
Jul 29, 2005 1:05 AM, Steve Chen wrote:
Jul 29, 2005 1 :25 AM, Chad Hurley wrote:
hmm, steal the movies?
Jul 29, 2005 1 :33 AM, Steve Chen wrote:
just something to watch out for. check out their alexa ranking.
Jul 29, 2005 7:45 AM, Chad Hurley wrote:
hmm, i know they are getting a lot of traffic… but it’s because they are a stupidvideos.com-type of site. they might make enough money to pay hosing bills, but sites like this and big-boys.com will never go public. I would really like to build something more valuable and more useful. actually build something that people will talk about and changes the way people use video on the internet.
Jul 29 2005 6:51 AM, Steve Chen wrote:
right, i understand those goals but, at the same time, we have to keep in mind that we need to attract traffic. how much traffic will we get from the personal videos? remember, the only reason why our traffic surged was due to a video of this type.
i’m not really disagreeing with you but i also think we shouldn’t be so high & mighty and think we’re better than these guys. viral videos will tend to be THOSE type of videos.
Jul 29 2005 6:56 AM, Steve Chen Wrote:
another thing. still a fundamental difference between us and most of those other sites. we do have a community and it’s ALL user generated content.
Not quite the discussion that Viacom implies. In fact, the more you look at the full context of almost every quote that Viacom and the press are playing up, the more and more Viacom's entire argument crumbles.