0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
In spring 2006, Google was roiled in intense debate as the company considered whether to buy the wildly popular video-sharing site YouTube.Revealing e-mails and other internal communications unsealed Thursday as part of a $1 billion lawsuit brought by Viacom show that many top Googlers — all the way up to co-founder Sergey Brin — were concerned about YouTube's copyright piracy problems and how they could reflect badly on Google's ethics. "As Sergey pointed out," Google executive David Eun wrote in a June 2006 e-mail circulated among top Google executives, "is changing a policy to increase traffic knowing beforehand that we'll profit from illegal downloads how we want to conduct our business? Is this Googley?"The outcome of the case is expected to have broad ramifications for how commercial content is posted to the Web. Viacom sued YouTube in 2007, saying it had violated federal law by allowing others to upload more than 60,000 copyrighted videos without authorization, including versions of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "South Park."Google executives — who previously had referred to YouTube as a "rogue enabler of content theft" whose "business model is completely sustained by pirated content" — nevertheless agreed to pay $1.65 billion to buy YouTube in 2006. In its filings in U.S. District Court in New York, YouTube said that Viacom, which owns Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central and other entertainment properties, secretly tried to use YouTube's popularity to promote its content, posting "roughed up" videos to make them look stolen or leaked, and even sending employees to Kinko's to upload clips that couldn't be traced back to Viacom.The collateral damage from the no-holds-barred legal battle could ding the reputations of both companies, observers said Thursday after the court material was released. "It is ridiculous that these parties have not settled," said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. "It's like a prize fight — they are both scoring points; they are both beating each other up. But instead of making money from the fight, they are paying to be in it. That's really dumb."Documents REVEALED"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."YouTube blog "I think we should beat YouTube -- and all competitors -- but not at all costs. A large part of their traffic is from pirated content. ... One senior media executive told me they are monitoring YouTube very closely and referred to them as a 'video Grokster.' "E-mail from Google content executive David Eun to CEO Eric Schmidt, May 12, 2006"I can't believe your recommending buying YouTube. Besides the ridiculous valuation they think they're entitled to, they're 80% illegal pirated content."A May 10, 2006, e-mail from Google Video business product manager Ethan Anderson to Google executive Patrick Walker