Viacom claims that the documents released today, “make clear one of our core claims in the case: that Google made a deliberate, calculated business decision not only to profit from copyright infringement, but also to use the threat of copyright infringement to try to coerce rights owners like Viacom into licensing their content on Google’s terms.”
Of course, the truth seems significantly more dubious.
Viacom’s claim hinges largely on statements made by Google executives before Google acquired the service in 2006. Ironically, Viacom claims that Google follows content protection standards now, saying “Google itself does what we say they should have done from the get–go—namely, employ the use of tools like digital fingerprinting to identify and discourage obvious copyright infringement—yet the sky has not remotely fallen. YouTube is still there to host millions of videos even after moving to a more respectful copyright posture.”
It seems like a pretty weak case to make, largely based on speculative statements made before Google even acquired Youtube. Indeed, Google showed evidence last month that Viacom had facilitated many of these supposed violations by surreptitiously posting their own content to Youtube “illegally” to generate viral buzz for their shows.
In short, Viacom’s accusations seem to be a little vindictive, especially given that the company tried and failed to acquire Youtube before Google bought it. Google’s been quite good about limiting the negative business effects of piracy, even allowing companies like Viacom to choose to leave illegally uploaded shows on Youtube in exchange for a large chunk of ad revenue from these videos.
Viacom’s actions smack of petty extortion, despite what their press releases claim.