Google to Viacom: Deny, deny and deny

Deny. Deny. Deny.
Viacom’s $1 billion copyright lawsuit on Google hasn’t exactly landed the way Viacom wished – so far.

Yesterday Google filed an official response (read a copy on CNET News.com) to the lawsuit basically stating that it has the law on it’s side. According to Google, Viacom’s complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression.

“We are not going to let this lawsuit distract us,” Michael Kwun, managing counsel for litigation at Google, told journalists according to Miguel Helfts reporting in New York Times.

The case raises a number of thoughts. Youtube was founded on the principle of open media, far away from big conglomerates – by and for a new generation of media users and developers. Google will probably never admit they did anything wrong. Viacom is on the other side of the lane.

On Tuesday the discussion among bloggers on Google’s respons was vivid. At TechCruch Michael Arrington translates Google’s response as: Let’s fight this out in front of a jury. “I have visions of bloggers fighting to get a good seat at the trial, and live blogging the entire thing. The fate of YouTube’s buisness model, as well as many other web startups, will likely be linked to the outcome of this litigation,” he writes.

At Between the lines Larry Dignan asks how many lawyers does it take to cut and paste “deny allegations” a few hundred times. “That’s the most interesting question raised by Google’s response to Viacom’s $1 billion copyright suit,” he writes.

Viacom – on their side – respond to Google’s response saying it misses the mark, according to New York Times. “This response ignores the most important fact of the suit, which is that YouTube does not qualify for safe harbor protection under the D.M.C.A.,” Viacom said, according to the newspaper. “It is obvious that YouTube has knowledge of infringing material on their site, and they are profiting from it.”

We’re in for some interesting and important drama if the case goes to court. A first case management conference is scheduled for July 27. At WSJ.com Peter Lattman notes that Google has retained a real big macher to defend the lawsuit: Phil Beck of Bartlit Beck, who will work with David Kramer at Wilson Sonsini. Beck is widely considered one of the nation’s top trial lawyers, having represented Bush in Florida during the 2000 election and Merck in many of its Vioxx cases.

We look forward to covering the trial – live blogging and drinking lots of protein-drinks!

By John Furrier and Tina Magnergard Bjers

PS. If you need a quick wrap up of the case – here it is: In March Viacom (the parent company of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon) sued Google for $1 billion, arguing that Google’s video-sharing site YouTube was infringing on copyrights. Google however says it is protected by the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act that generally holds that Web sites’ owners are not liable for copyright material uploaded by others to their site as long as they promptly remove the material when asked to do so by the copyright owner.

Author: John

Entrepreneur living in Palo Alto California and the Founder of SiliconANGLE Media

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