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Google Slams Viacom For Secret YouTube Uploads 307

Posted by timothy
from the when-back-channels-collide dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Reuters: "Google, Inc. accused Viacom, Inc. of secretly uploading its videos to YouTube even as the media conglomerate publicly denounced the online video site for copyright infringement, according to court documents made public on Thursday." As "statements from the corporate counsel's office" go, this post on the YouTube blog is pretty hot reading.
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Google Slams Viacom For Secret YouTube Uploads

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  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:14PM (#31528982)

    Google has become quite outspoken. I guess they are big enough that they do not have to scratch anyone's back anymore. I like this approach - Google has the power to change people's perceptions of companies (and countries) seeing as how they do control a large chunk of the flow of information on the Internet.

    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:21PM (#31529116)
      While they do this they're changing people's perception of Google as well ... and not always for the better.
      • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:19PM (#31529948) Homepage Journal

        While they do this they're changing people's perception of Google as well ... and not always for the better.

        Who would you rather have controlling a large chunk of the flow of information on the internet, Google, or Viacom?

        I can understand the consternation that has sometimes arisen regarding Google, but I think some of it might be because we're not used to transnational corporations acting like anything but rapacious, greedy monsters who hate their own customers and would sell weapons to Al-Qaeda if it meant a 2% bump in quarterly profits.

        Google may be far from perfect, but they're also far from your average transnational spawn of Satan.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Too bad they cannot just file that blog post (with a bunch of attached items to confirm their statements) as their legal response to the suit.
  • If Viacom wins (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Blackneto (516458)
    If Viacom wins there isn't anything that cannot be bought.
    • by clintonmonk (1411953) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:54PM (#31530338)

      If Viacom wins there isn't anything that cannot be bought.

      Even double negatives.

    • Re:If Viacom wins (Score:5, Informative)

      by metlin (258108) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:14PM (#31531090) Journal

      It's not as cut and dry as you might think. YouTube has done its share of dirty deeds in this whole fiasco [arstechnica.com].

      Some choice excerpts include the YouTube cofounders discussing how 80% of the site traffic depended on pirated videos. So, they pretty much did whatever they had to get a massive user base so that they'd get bought out. From the article -

      The basic argument here is a simple one. YouTube's founders hoped to build a massive user base as quickly as possible and then sell the site. "Our dirty little secret... is that we actually just want to sell out quickly," said Karim at one point.

      Now, arguably, YouTube at that time does not equal Google, and one could argue that things have changed. However, don't be so quick to decide without hearing both sides of the story.

      • Re:If Viacom wins (Score:5, Insightful)

        by metlin (258108) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:28PM (#31531242) Journal

        I'll also add this. What was Google's business case for buying YouTube? You think they didn't know that YouTube was rife with pirated content? The article also talks about how little documentation Google produced on the whole deal. Both sides knew what they were doing (*wink*, *wink*).

  • Busted (Score:5, Funny)

    by longacre (1090157) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:15PM (#31529014) Homepage
    I always suspected lonelygirl15 was actually Andy Rooney. This seems to confirm it.
  • Viacom - the verb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CdBee (742846) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:18PM (#31529082)
    This story illustrates a whole new sort of corporate stupidity. I propose from now on that such an action should be known as Viacomming, drawn from a new verb. To Viacom. Definition - to stab yourself in both feet by litigating against your own principal shopfront.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I do hereby second this motion. Can we get a floor vote?
    • by dunezone (899268) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:27PM (#31529216) Journal
      Viacomming - failing to adapt to new technology and current trends of a growing demographic.
      Synonyms: RIAA, NBC
    • by brennz (715237) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:30PM (#31529254)
      Would you happen to know of a bathroom nearby, I think I need to take a SCO.
    • by krou (1027572) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:33PM (#31529324)
      I shall only agree to this when I get proof of the Second Viacomming.
    • by raddan (519638) *
      Oh, but Sony's been doing it for years!
    • Re:Viacom - the verb (Score:5, Interesting)

      by c++0xFF (1758032) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:52PM (#31529596)

      I think it's worse than that:

      For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately "roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom.

      It seems that Viacom purposefully uploaded these files to invalidate the whole concept of YouTube. "See how much of our stuff is uploaded! They can't filter it out! They have to be shut down!"

      It's almost like dumping a much of random nails in the street and then suing the government for not cleaning the streets properly.

      This article is definitely worth reading.

      • Re:Viacom - the verb (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:21PM (#31529980)

        It seems that Viacom purposefully uploaded these files to invalidate the whole concept of YouTube. "See how much of our stuff is uploaded! They can't filter it out! They have to be shut down!"

        Nope. Viacom realized the value of marketing their shows on youtube, which HELPS VIACOM MAKE MONEY. By having lots of people uploading clips of their favorite shows, it boosts the popularity & coolness of the show.

        Since this was a secret astroturf [wikipedia.org] project, Viacom had to have their regular DMCA people prowl youtube to remove the clips.

        This is not unlike payola, where a record label pays a radio station to promote sales of music. Except without the payment. Maybe I need a car analogy...

        • Car analogy? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mangu (126918) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:02PM (#31530974)

          This is not unlike payola, where a record label pays a radio station to promote sales of music. Except without the payment. Maybe I need a car analogy...

          No need for car analogies here because it's typical of what every person involved with sales do. Offer the thing to everybody, but always claim it's not really for sale, it's too precious to sell.

          Like when you go to a used car lot and the salesman [wordpress.com] tells you he cannot hold that car for you unless you close the deal right then and there, because there are so many people ready to take that car at a much higher price.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by syousef (465911)

          This is not unlike payola, where a record label pays a radio station to promote sales of music. Except without the payment. Maybe I need a car analogy...

          So many made up words, so little meaning. The term 'fraud' has been around since the dawn of the English language.

        • by $0.02 (618911) on Friday March 19, 2010 @12:48AM (#31533002)

          Car analogy:

          You drive Toyota Prius and press the accelerator all the way down. Then you call 911. You enjoy speedy ride. The police does not pull you over. You thank them for saving you life. Then you sue Toyota.

  • Oblig quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:20PM (#31529110)
    Captain Renault: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"
    Croupier: "Your winnings, sir. ."
  • by Ossifer (703813) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:37PM (#31529370)
    Tonight I'm gonna sneak my TV onto my neighbor's yard, and then call the cops on him tomorrow morning.

    Dirty thief!
    • by CHK6 (583097)
      Don't forget to later tell your neighbour when he's in court, that you want to give him the tv.
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:00PM (#31529682)

    Wow. Facts aside, this is the clearest, most straightforward legal/PR writing I've read in years. Makes the point with no dodging and evasion, no complicated jargon, it's short, clear, and on point.

    Kids, if you ever wonder why English 101 is mandatory at your college, this is why: so maybe someday you'll be able to write like this.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      The primary factor in the clarity of this story is most likely that it's all true.

      Things get weird when people are trying to bend light around the facts to hide them.

    • by bmo (77928) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:47PM (#31530260)

      Off Topic, but whatever. If a mod wants to waste his points on this post, go right ahead. I maxed out on karma a decade ago.

      English 101 doesn't teach you how to write.

      I have never ever had an English class where I was taught how to write. It was always by the seat of my pants. All writing in high school was geared at writing the "term paper" resulting in my complete inability to write anything but the most boring, stultifying, coma-inducing drek on the planet. Indeed, we were taught something called the "term paper method." The only thing this taught me is that I could never have an original opinion unless I could cite someone else saying it, parrot it, and leave a listing in the bibliography.

      This left me literate but crippled.

      None of it was geared to how I could express myself. I had to be out of school for 5 years for that to happen; writing every day in the Marquis De Sade school of writing known as BBS networks (Fight-O-Net) hanging out in the debate oriented message bases. I can also credit the local BBSes that had things like "The Never Ending Story."

      When I did eventually go back to school, I took College Writing and found all I had to do was defenstrate some bad habits to get an A on a paper. Thanks Fidonet!

      --
      BMO

      • by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @07:39PM (#31530778) Journal

        Indeed, we were taught something called the "term paper method."

        When I was in high school, we were taught to write essays using the "three-pronged thesis" method. The main reasons for this are because it produces short essays, the essays are easy to grade and it encourages creativity in coming up with bullshit to fill the third paragraph when used in situations where the third paragraph should be unnecessary.

        Three-pronged thesis statements produce short essays because they encourage the writer to produce 5 paragraphs. One paragraph is used for the introduction to the essay. The next three are used to expand upon each "prong" of the thesis, one paragraph per prong. The final paragraph is used to conclude the essay, and usually is nothing more than the introductory paragraph re-worded.

        In addition, these essays are easy to grade because teachers can check the essay by scanning it for key parts. Many teachers grade these essays by checking to see if the introductory paragraph does have a three-pronged thesis and that the opening sentence of the next three paragraphs each refers to one prong of that three-pronged thesis. Unfortunately, teachers who rely on this cursory grading may overlook that their students had inserted off-topic references to bananas in their essays.

        Finally, three-pronged essays encourage making up bullshit like this paragraph when the essay's subject matter just doesn't require three paragraphs to cover. Seriously, who needs three paragraphs to explain why the kid in The Scarlet Ibis died? Kid had a weak heart and died of a heart attack. It was sad, the end.

        In conclusion, three-pronged thesis statements lead to short essays that are easy to grade and full of bullshit. I spent entirely too long writing this thing, and if I never write anything like this again, it will be too soon.

        • by bmo (77928) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:38PM (#31531314)

          That was brilliant.

          By the time I got to the end, I began twitching.

          Somebody help me.

          --
          BMO

        • by anaesthetica (596507) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @10:32PM (#31532112) Homepage Journal

          87 B+

          Overall solid essay, clearly written and well organized. Needs a stronger introduction: lead with your thesis statement, not just a topic sentence. Needs citations! Can't get into A-range grade without citing your sources (Wikipedia, or really any encyclopedia, doesn't count). Seemed to go off on a tangent at one point about bananas--was this a typo? Proofread! Argument got weak toward the end--could have used some direct quotes to reinforce your position regarding Doodle's death. A straightforward reading is acceptable, but I think it would have been better if you could have expanded on the context leading you to this interpretation? It may be that the literal causal story is less important than the intent of the author--what emotions in the reader did Hurst try to evoke by telling the story with Doodle dying in the end?

          Love,
          Your TA

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537)
          Eeek. Yes, that's exactly what I was taught. I know my writing is still crappy, but at least I've managed to avoid letting all of those bad habits stick. Some food for thought:

          The English language is derived from two main sources. One is Latin, the florid language of ancient Rome. The other is Anglo-Saxon, the plain languages of England and northern Europe. The words derived from Latin are the enemy—they will strangle and suffocate everything you write. The Anglo-Saxon words will set you free.

          How do those Latin words do their strangling and suffocating? In general they are long, pompous nouns that end in -ion—like implementation and maximization and communication (five syllables long!)—or that end in -ent—like development and fulfillment. Those nouns express a vague concept or an abstract idea, not a specific action that we can picture—somebody doing something. Here’s a typical sentence: “Prior to the implementation of the financial enhancement.” That means “Before we fixed our money problems.”

          Believe it or not, this is the language that people in authority in America routinely use—officials in government and business and education and social work and health care. They think those long Latin words make them sound important. It no longer rains in America; your TV weatherman will tell that you we’re experiencing a precipitation probability situation....

          ...Those long Latin usages have so infected everyday language in America that you might well think, “If that’s how people write who are running the country, that’s how I’m supposed to write.” It’s not.

          - Writing English as a Second Language [theamericanscholar.org] by William Zinsser

          I don't agree with everything Mr. Zinsser says, but I agree with this much: we're all taught to use English very badly. Journalists and government officials set a bad example; teachers teach us the wrong things. It's a wonder there are good writers at all.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by metlin (258108)

            I don't necessarily think that writing complex sentences (or using long winded words) is a bad thing. If anything, the push for shorter sentences and easier words (with "flexible" spelling) probably encourages poor language and lowers the bar for everyone.

            You should read Joseph Schumpeter -- his writing is complex, and you'd often take a good five minutes to read just one paragraph (his Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is particularly beastly). But so much was conveyed so well in his one paragraph that y

  • by Fencepost (107992) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @07:05PM (#31530436) Journal

    Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

    Given Viacom's own actions, there is no way YouTube could ever have known which Viacom content was and was not authorized to be on the site. But Viacom thinks YouTube should somehow have figured it out.

    That combination right there is going to be very powerful, and there are at least two arguments to be based on it: first, if even the copyright owners can't figure out what material is supposed to be there, how are we expected to do so? A followup offer might be "Your honor, if you'll instruct Viacom that they must allow Google and its legal team to index and have access to all of their internal communications and financials, we'll use that information to remove only the Viacom-owned items that Viacom didn't upload or cause to have uploaded."

    The second argument could easily be that Google made a strong effort to remove copyrighted materials but that their efficiency in doing so was severely degraded by Viacom's uploading materials in ways that effectively contaminated the identification of infringing materials. Remove all the red ones! OK, here they are. Whoops, I really meant all the red ones except this one, that one, that other one, the one over there and maybe a few more. And how are we supposed to know which ones you want removed? Figure it out yourselves or we'll sue you for one billyun dollars!

  • by imp (7585) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:17PM (#31531122) Homepage

    If these allegations are true, it is the very definition of unclean hands...

    And people wonder why we need net neutrality. This should shine a bright light into why it is so needed.

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