Google Says Viacom Suit ‘Threatens Expression’

Google  filed a strongly-worded response last night
to Viacom’s  copyright infringement suit against its
video sharing subsidiary, YouTube.

Google rejected allegations that it is violating Viacom’s intellectual
property rights, saying it not only complies with its obligations under the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but “go[es] well above and beyond
what the law requires.”


In its answer, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of
New York, Google also charged that Viacom’s complaint “threatens the way
hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information… and
political and artistic expression.”

In a suit that may eventually yield new precedent, Viacom sued Google in March for “massive intentional copyright infringement.” The conglomerate wants to prevent YouTube from showing clips of its television programs that users copied and posted to the site.

But Google maintains that the DMCA balances the rights of copyright holders
against the need “to protect the Internet as an important new form of
communication.”

Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at the Santa Clara
University School of Law, noted that the DMCA was passed when the Internet
was still in its infancy, and does not take into account new technology and
business models that didn’t exist at the time.

“This case exists because what Congress did in 1998 made sense then but does
not make sense today,” he told internetnews.com.

Google is relying on a safe harbor provision for its defense, which protects
Web site owners from liability for what users post to those sites. But,
according to Goldman, the statute can be interpreted in two different and
mutually-exclusive ways.

Even though Google has requested a jury trial, matters of law — such as
interpreting a statute — are matters for the presiding judge to decide, he
said.

“If the judge has leanings one way or the other, it may be fairly
determinative,” he said.

“The lawsuit may yield some important and potentially novel law.”

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