Google: Viacom Suit Hurts Users

NEW YORK Google and its video-sharing site YouTube filed a response in federal court Monday to Viacom’s copyright-infringement lawsuit, suggesting that the action amounts to an attack on “hundreds of millions” of Internet users.

The New York-based media conglomerate filed its suit in March in U.S. District Court in New York, seeking more than $1 billion in damages. Viacom also seeks an injunction prohibiting Google and YouTube from using its clips.

Google acquired YouTube in November for $1.65 billion. Like defendants in similar previous suits, the companies are citing a safe harbor provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

“By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom’s complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression,” the defendants said in their response. “Google and YouTube respect the importance of intellectual property rights and not only comply with their safe harbor obligations under the DMCA but go well above and beyond what the law requires.”

Google attorney Mia Garlick said the defendants are confident they will succeed where file-sharers including Napster and others have failed.

“The reason we will succeed is that we’re a platform for more than just premium entertainment content,” Garlick said. “And (that) content comes from both amateur and professional content creators.”

Viacom execs said they filed suit after trying to get YouTube to sign a content licensing agreement. A few weeks before its filing, Viacom said it had identified more than 100,000 of its clips posted without authorization on YouTube.

Viacom issued a public statement after Google filed its response.

“This response ignores the most important fact of the suit, which is that YouTube does not qualify for safe harbor protection under the DMCA,” Viacom said. “It is obvious that YouTube has knowledge of infringing material on their site, and they are profiting from it.”

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