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Google: Viacom's Suit 'Threatens' Internet

Google responded to Viacom’s copyright-infringement lawsuit with a filing in a federal court insisting that Google and YouTube “respect” intellectual-property rights and that the media company’s legal action “threatens the way hundreds of millions of people” use the Internet.

Google’s response -- filed Monday with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York -- also asserted that both Google and YouTube “go above and beyond what the law requires” with regard to copyrighted material.

Google was referring specifically to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which provides immunity to Internet-service providers from prosecution under copyright laws if a company has appropriate procedures in place to remove material when notified by the copyright holder.

“By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom's complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression,” Google said in its response.

The DMCA, Google added, “balances the rights of copyright holders and the need to protect the Internet as an important new form of communication.”

In its March lawsuit seeking at least $1 billion in damages, Viacom said essentially that Google and YouTube forfeited their right to protections under the DMCA because YouTube’s entire business model is based on members posted infringing content.

“YouTube's strategy has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on its site, thus generating significant traffic and revenues for itself while shifting the entire burden -- and high cost -- of monitoring YouTube onto the victims of its infringement,” Viacom said in a statement in March.

The media company alleged that almost 160,000 clips of Viacom's programming have been available on YouTube without permission, and that these clips had been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.