* Viacom tried to buy YouTube before suing it - Google
* Google/YouTube allowed piracy to attract users - Viacom
* YouTube emails evidence of intentional piracy - Viacom
(Adds Viacom and YouTube statements, background, bylines)
By Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO, March 18 Viacom Inc
accused Google Inc of turning a blind eye to illegal video
clips on its YouTube site in a bid to attract viewers,
according to court documents released on Thursday.
Google countered that Viacom managers continued to secretly
upload content to YouTube even after the media company had
filed the $1 billion copyright suit in March 2007.
Viacom VIAb.N, which owns cable networks MTV and Comedy
Central among others, charged that Google (GOOG.O) and YouTube
executives were aware videos were being illegally uploaded to
the site, failed to stop it, and, in some cases, broke the law
by adding copyrighted clips themselves.
"YouTube was intentionally built on infringement and there
are countless internal YouTube communications demonstrating
that YouTube's founders and its employees intended to profit
from that infringement," Viacom said in a statement on
Thursday, as the documents were released.
As part of its evidence, Viacom provided excerpts from
emails in 2005 between YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley, Steve
Chen and Jawed Karim. YouTube is a division of Google.
In a July 19, 2005 email, for instance, Chen wrote to Karim
and copied in Hurley: "We're going to have a tough time
defending the fact that we're not liable for the copyrighted
material on the site because we didn't put it up when one of
the co-founders is blatantly stealing content from other sites
and trying to get everyone to see it."
YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine, on a blog post, said
Viacom's brief "misconstrues isolated lines from a handful of
The opening briefs in the Viacom vs YouTube lawsuit are
widely seen as a test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA) which YouTube believes protects it from Viacom's
The law criminalizes the production of technology to
circumvent anti-piracy measures while limiting the liability of
providers of online services for copyright infringement by
While it is still early in the legal battle, it appeared
Google was trying to cast Viacom's strategy as hypocritical by
claiming several of the company's own managers and agencies had
continued to upload videos to YouTube.
"Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been
uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users," said Levine in the blog
"Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central
and the head of MTV Networks felt 'very strongly' that clips
from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should
remain on YouTube," Levine said.
With YouTube being easily the most popular online video
site, many TV producers upload clips of their shows for
YouTube said this week its users upload up to 24 hours of
video every minute.
Google also claimed Viacom had in 2006 expressed interest
in buying YouTube, which the Web search leader subsequently
bought months later for $1.65 billion.
The case is In re: Viacom v. YouTube, U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:07-cv-02103
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic in San
Francisco; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Richard Chang)