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Google Spent $100M Defending Viacom Lawsuit

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the expensive-justice dept.

Google 153

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Lawsuits are never cheap, even if you're on the winning side. But not many cost as much as Viacom's lawsuit against Google. The search giant won before trial, and even so Google spent $100 million defending themselves. Incidentally, Viacom is appealing the ruling, so it's not even over yet. Perhaps it's no wonder our rights are vanishing online when it takes $100M to protect just one of them."

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GO! GOOGLE! GO! GIRL! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953446)

Eat that, slashdot !!

Re:GO! GOOGLE! GO! GIRL! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953582)

I would like some of this weed

A possible fix: (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953486)

On all matters regarding intellectual properties, only public defenders may represent both parties.

And move to a non-profit court system. Some jurisdictions figured out they could attract dollars by being attractive venues for lawsuits.

Re:A possible fix: (4, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953542)

And move to a non-profit court system. Some jurisdictions figured out they could attract dollars by being attractive venues for lawsuits.

That has nothing to do with the court system - it actually loses money on each case, whether patent, criminal, or civil. However, the city of Marshall, Texas makes a lot of money on patent suits, with lots of expensive hotels and restaurants for out of towners. Are you going to suggest banning capitalism in towns with courthouses? Obviously not.
Forum shopping is bad for many reasons, but not the one you suggest.

Re:A possible fix: (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953576)

A simple solution would be to not require people to travel for these sort of court matters. Everything can be done by a teleconference between the parties, each at a courthouse local to them.

Re:A possible fix: (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953624)

A simple solution would be to not require people to travel for these sort of court matters. Everything can be done by a teleconference between the parties, each at a courthouse local to them.

And is the jury at a third courthouse? Or does one side get to look them in the eye while the other side is over video?

Re:A possible fix: (1)

tattood (855883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953750)

And is the jury at a third courthouse?

Do they have a jury for the pre-trial? If these are settled before they go to trial, then there should be no jury involved.

Re:A possible fix: (2, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953858)

And is the jury at a third courthouse?

Do they have a jury for the pre-trial? If these are settled before they go to trial, then there should be no jury involved.

So, the suggestion is that they should do pre-trial matters via teleconference? They already do. Not unusual.

Plus, really, do you think the majority, or even a significant amount, of the $100 million cost was the airfare and hotels? Really?

Re:A possible fix: (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953732)

The cost is primarily the hourly rate for lawyers, not travel expenses. This case barely even saw the inside of a courtroom. Teleconference maybe could have saved a few thousand, maybe even a few hundred thousand, but not any significant percentage.

Re:A possible fix: (3, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953782)

It could have taken the profitability for the town though.

Re:A possible fix: (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953872)

Better solution: make better laws, appoint better judges.

I kind of hate when you get a problem that stems from people doing stupid things and everyone runs around trying to figure out how to rejigger the system to make stupid things impossible. There is no systematic way to stop stupid greedy corrupt people from wreaking havoc. You can come up with systems that will diminish the amount of damage any one stupid greedy corrupt person can do, but that's about it. If you let stupid greedy corrupt people stay in charge, they'll still wreak havoc.

Re:A possible fix: (4, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954196)

"Better solution: make better laws, appoint better judges."

It's not the laws, this was a lawsuit that didn't even enter a courtroom. I can sue anyone for anything: if I knew your name and address I could sue you right now for... oh, let's say slander and you'd have to shell out $$$ or be found guilty. Oh sure you could counter sue saying the lawsuit has no basis and might get your money back, but you'd still have to shell out the $$$ first just to go to court.

Legal system is no better: without any proof or evidence at all I could accuse anyone of assault and the police will go arrest them and put them in jail and maybe the next day they could talk to a judge and get out of jail after paying thousands in bail. That's what this women did. [ocregister.com] She sent fake harassing text messages to herself and her ex-boyfriend was arrested three times before the police finally investigated to see that all the text messages were sent close to where the woman worked. Each time he was arrested he had to pay thousands in bail money and now has a police record for harassment that he has to try and clear up.

The US legal system is horrible.

Re:A possible fix: (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954450)

So it's not the laws and judges, but it's the "legal system"? Can you spell out that distinction better?

Re:A possible fix: (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954586)

The US legal system is horrible.

The problems you mentioned are not specific to the United States of America. But considering that I've heard of rescuers sued by people who's lives they saved for injuring their arm pulling them out of burning cars, you do have a point.

Re:A possible fix: (2, Informative)

berzerke (319205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954670)

...She sent fake harassing text messages to herself and her ex-boyfriend was arrested three times before the police finally investigated to see that all the text messages were sent close to where the woman worked...

Actually, if you RTFA carefully, you'll see it was the victims that did the investigating first, and then took their findings to the police, who then ran with it.

Re:A possible fix: (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955440)

who then ran with it

Actually, after they took the findings to the police, the police arrested one of them again and kept her in custody for a few more days.

Re:A possible fix: (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953956)

How about establishing "jurisdiction" for software patent cases. It seems stupid to me that they get to cherry pick courts just because it's difficult to say "where" the problem happened. Jurisdiction should be well defined for these types of cases, such as going to the court presiding over the locality the copyrite/patent owner resides (in the case of corporate entities, the locale of their primary place of business [IE: Corporate office location]). And all other courts can/must say "not my problem [Jurisdiction]". Establishing "shared" court facilities to allow plaintiffs and defendants to attend hearings and present evidence "remotely" as the parent mentioned would complete the picture.

Re:A possible fix: (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954866)

Teleconferencing is generally a farce. There is no substitute for being in the same room with someone when important issues are being discussed. Much of human communication is in body language that can not be seen over teleconferencing. Sorry but a 4" picture of someone on a screen is not equivalent to watching that same person from ten feet away.There is also a separation effect in that people will say different things when they are in front of a camera than in the same room. Some people lie more when viewed remotely. For example, would your reaction be different a lawyer was two feet in front of you asking questions or if he was a talking head on a screen? Teleconferencing may work one to one but not when we are dealing with a jury, judge, lawyers, defendants, exhibits, etc. There is too much information lost on screens.

Re:A possible fix: (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954230)

The city may be losing money, but the officials, judges and the people working in that system aren't.

Re:A possible fix: (2, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954304)

Are you going to suggest banning capitalism in towns with courthouses?

If it will allow me to continue watching videos of cats doing cute things, people falling down in funny ways, breakdancing, and all the other silly but entertaining things I see on youtube, then I'll suggest that yes, communism socialism anarchy or whatever in Marshall Texas is just fine for me personally. Cede it to North Korea for all I care, just don't let Viacom win.

(I should explicitly mention that I am not a lawyer, not from Texas, and am not serious)

Re:A possible fix: (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954344)

The outside jurisdiction stuff can't be helped, but I think the GP's point is still valid.

In criminal cases, if you're accused you're provided an attorney if you cannot afford one. This isn't true in civil cases. In this day and age, your average citizen cannot afford justice against a big company. That's the main point. Doesn't matter if you're right or wrong, the working man can't afford to take a case to a final verdict anyways.

I say that public defenders should be available to the defendant even in civil cases (the plaintiff should need to provide their own counsel regardless). If the plaintiff wins, then the defendant has to pay whatever judgement is handed down, but they don't have to pay their defender (let that be tax payer funded - a little unfair to the nation yes, but anything that keeps the system more fair is worth it IMHO). If they plaintiff loses however, then they must in turn pay the state's incurred cost for the public defender.

Re:A possible fix: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953550)

And move to a non-profit court system. Some jurisdictions figured out they could attract dollars by being attractive venues for lawsuits.

I'm curious as to what "profit" you think the East Texas circuit court district is making... hint: The courts aren't making a profit... maybe you're thinking of something else? Because I sure as hell can't figure it out...

Fix? Who needs a fix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953708)

The purpose of the judicial branch of government is to adminstrate the assertion of the will of the rich over the poor, with the appearance of justice.

And it is working just fine. A bit slow perhaps, but good enough.

Re:A possible fix: (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953742)

Place suits on slashdot for some mob rule moderation. The loser (or CEO of losing company) gets an ice pick in the eye.

Re:A possible fix: (2, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954062)

Your invention of the "ice pick in the eye over the internet" would just land you in court against this guy [bash.org] .

Re:A possible fix: (1)

onceuponatime (821046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955344)

I've always thought the legal system is fatally flawed. It all depends on how much you can spend on lawyers and that's usually a lot and never really recoverable even if you were innocent.

If the state were force to cover all legal costs for all law suites, they might think twice about the laws they make.

Another interesting alternatives that it would be interesting to hear the flaws with it is if every party could only spend equal money on lawyers. If one parties doesn't want to spend any more then the only way the other party could spend more was to pay the equal amount of the increase to the legal team of the opposition. This would at least balance out the justice dealt somewhat. What are the flaws with this approach? It's somewhat radical, but I swear it seems more like real justice.

Rights? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953504)

Like Google's self-appointed "right" to blatantly violate hundreds of thousands of other people's copyrights?

Re:Rights? (5, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953650)

Google is not blatantly violating copyrights. As a common carrier that does not censor postings, they are not directly responsible for material posted to sites owned by them. In addition, Google would claim they have promptly taken down infringing material as soon as they were notified. Now, has Google assisted other individuals in violating copyright? Yes, and one could argue that as a corporation they should be held liable for contributing to copyright infringement. But they did not intentionally or blatantly violate anyone's copyright themselves.

go tell it to the DMCA buddy (5, Interesting)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953690)

As much as I disliked the DMCA, the safe-harbor provision has done its job.

Google didn't violate peoples copyrights. The individual uploaders may or may not have,
according to the varying nuances of fair use. The benefits of youtube far outweigh
the theoretical loss of revenue.

Google spent a 100m not defending its good name but to set a legal precedent and defend the value of its company.
  Once the legal precedent has been set, the cost of defending these suits will drop a great deal.

Of Google will claim the entire 100m as a tax writeoff.

Re:go tell it to the DMCA buddy (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954320)

And thank god they did. I theorized when they bought YouTube that the entire point was to fight and win this battle. It keeps the internet open and free, a better place for the masses, and Google benefits with having more people doing more online, because they're an internet company. It's a rare day when corporate profits line up with the prosperity of the people, but they still deserve a salute for it.

Re:go tell it to the DMCA buddy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32954366)

Google will claim the entire 100m as a tax writeoff.

Kramer: It's a write-off for them.
Jerry: How is it a write-off?
Kramer: They just write it off.
Jerry: Write it off what?
Kramer: Jerry, all these big companies, they write off everything.
Jerry: You don't even know what a write-off is.
Kramer: Do you?
Jerry: No, I don't.
Kramer: But they do — and they are the ones writing it off.
Jerry: I wish I could have the last 20 seconds of my life back.

Re:go tell it to the DMCA buddy (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954628)

Google didn't violate peoples copyrights. The individual uploaders may or may not have,
according to the varying nuances of fair use.

Don't forget that viacom was uploading to youtube with sockpuppet accounts at the same time.

Legal ridiculousness (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953508)

  Maybe that's something that needs to be outsourced - civil suits. The way legal firms rack up billing is as great a crime as Hollywood / RIAA accounting.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (4, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953588)

Sometimes, yes.

I'm an Engineer. It took me 5 years of University (co-op program) and six years of EIT time before I became a Pro. I would charge out time at about $200 an hour, which is roughly the same as other Pros. (This isn't what I get paid at work but then I get other benefits like steady work, legal resources and insurance, and a great environment.)

Lawyers get a degree before they go to law school and then have to spend years articling before they can do their bar thing. (What? I'm not a lawyer. My lawyer's a lawyer.) Why should they charge a cheap rate for professional services? Law is a difficult topic and requires a lot of training. It's not like on Law and Order or Ally MacBeal where it's just talking. Most of it is research, practice, and training.

Loser pay, though, that's the way to go. They do it up here.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953806)

Law is a difficult topic and requires a lot of training.

Law is a difficult topic and requires a lot of training because laws are written by lawyers. So long as that's the case, law-makers will never do in one paragraph what they could stretch to a thousand pages.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953852)

Laws written by non-lawyers tend to suck with ridiculous holes and unforeseen consequences. Condense a law that you find overwritten and I will find enough holes in it to drive a truck through.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (3, Insightful)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954168)

I would accept your premise if thousand-page-long laws written by lawyers had no ridiculous holes or unforeseen consequences.

--Jeremy

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954678)

It's a question of degrees. They have holes but they're a lot smaller, and can frequently be patched with a slight language change. A paragraph-long law would likely have to be completely rewritten into a longer form to fix its problems.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954740)

If laws were "interpreted" based on stated intent, rather than explicit word, then we'd be fine again. But when you have lawyers applying layman written laws, you will run into that problem. When you have laymen interpreting laymen written laws with the express instruction to follow the spirit if the letter fails, you'll not have any holes.

As for unforseen consequences, I'd rather have those than the laws that have specific hidden consequences (not unforseen because the writers saw the holes, they just hid them from others because they wanted them - just about anything ever written by an industry is of this type). And, you just change the law. For some reason, the law itself is self referential. That is, a law is important because it's a law. Thus, a bad law should be followed and not repealed because doing so is giving in to the criminals. So, once a law is a law, it shouldn't ever be repealed because, well, it's the law. That's stupid. Bad laws shouldn't take 13 years to repeal when 5 years in everyone could see that Prohibition was a complete failure causing violence and launching the modern era of organized crime.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955026)

If laws were "interpreted" based on stated intent, rather than explicit word, then we'd be fine again.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Does that include machine guns and automatic rifles?

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953958)

Because the wording needs to be (well, in theory at least) as precise as possible.

Try to fit IEEE 802.11 into a paragraph and not run into conflicts and problems.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (2, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953992)

"Loser pays" sounds good when you imagine the "good guy" is getting sued and he racks up a bunch of legal bills winning against frivolous lawsuits, but what about when the whole thing is turned around?

Like lets say McDonald's was putting neurotoxins into Happy Meals and my child becomes permanently disabled because of it. I sue McDonald's, and they hire millions of dollars worth of lawyers who trounce my cheap lawyer. Now I'm on the hook for millions of dollars in legal fees?

Or is that not how it works?

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954426)

Yes, that's how it works. The end result is that only parties with very, very deep pockets will be able to bear the risk of initiating an action, since you can never be 100% sure of the outcome.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955364)

Like lets say McDonald's was putting neurotoxins into Happy Meals and my child becomes permanently disabled because of it. I sue McDonald's, and they hire millions of dollars worth of lawyers who trounce my cheap lawyer. Now I'm on the hook for millions of dollars in legal fees?

Or is that not how it works?

No, not really. It's a shitty example. Something like that would be class action.

A better example would be accusing the manager of a McDonalds of spitting in your food, or the local mom and pop store putting neurotoxins in your food.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955448)

No its not altogether how it works. In the UK, at least, user pays is at the judge's discretion, and the judge gets to decide what reasonable costs should be.

Losing can still be very expensive.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (2, Insightful)

mini me (132455) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954188)

There is nothing wrong with highly skilled people charging top dollar. The problem is that I cannot hire an unskilled lawyer to take my case.

If I want to hire a random guy off the street who is willing to represent me for $50/hr., so be it. It is my fault for choosing to use his services in the first place if something goes horribly wrong. Or maybe he will actually be really good at the work it and I will have saved a fortune.

I recall reading about a case where a lawyer got into a lot of trouble for practising without the bar. What was most notable is that the article said he was really good at what he did. Why is the bar even necessary in cases like that? The bar does not have to be eliminated for those who want to have credentials to back up their services. That is how the free market is supposed to work.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954698)

Law is a difficult topic and requires a lot of training.

And laws are written by lawyers in a way to ensure that a lot of money will have to be paid to lawyers. Like that 1990's modification of trademark law that says that companies MUST sue for all perceived infringement or else lose their trademark, meaning that "yoga inside" gets sued because "x inside" is too close to a chip maker's sales pitch to be allowed to be used for something clearly unrelated to their field.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955032)

Exactly this, lawyers game the system, and in the process everyone else pays. There is no reason lawyers should be allowed percentages of settlements, EVER. That, to me, is a CLEAR violation of ethics. Lawyers should be paid standard rates, not X percentage when the subject matter relates to law and precedent. Sure if you are a hollywood producer, X% of profit is fine and ethical, but in the legal profession the consequences are too great to allow such freewheeling gaming of the system for profit at the expense of justice.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954852)

Lawyers get a degree before...

Law educations in government subsidized schools, with government backed student loans... Afterward, charge whatever the market will bear to hell with civilization. Those who practice law have an inherent responsibility to the civilization that chooses to respect it. Today the neglect of that responsibility manifests itself as indifference toward bankrupting all the non-lawyers.

This will sort itself; the western world is rapidly bankrupting itself and when the ride finally stops there will be little patience for contemporary "law" and it's self-serving ways.

Re:Legal ridiculousness (1)

Drew M. (5831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954038)

It's even easier than that. I'm pretty sure I've seen this idea mentioned before on Slashdot:

The best scheme that I've seen is to have loser pays, but with the addition that a side is only responsible for up to the amount they spent on their personal lawyer. This brings much more power to the little guy trying to defend a lawsuit, and also makes sure that the corporation can't bury him in an insane amount of fees in the case that he loses.

This also provides the incentive of "only spending as much as you need on a lawyer" and not a penny more.

Other interesting monies (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953510)

Perhaps the data is published somewhere or is simply waiting to be compiled, but I would like to know how much was spent lobbying for the DMCA in the first place. This figure can then be compared with the money spent defending. Those numbers could then be used to show how much money was wasted on this and similar laws that offers negative net benefit to those whose copyrights are being "protected."

As we know, belief trumps fact. It has been widely believed to be true until studies have proven it to be true. So perhaps such a study would be an exercise in futility, but perhaps before MORE stupid laws and treaties are put into place, these sorts of facts need to come out into the open to show the world what is really going on and who is really benefiting. Turns out that the individual people aren't benefiting (we already knew that) but the parties allegedly being defended aren't benefiting either. The courts systems are being burdened and tied up as well. It's all a tremendous waste and the only beneficiaries are the lawyers behind it all.

Re:Other interesting monies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953632)

It's all a tremendous waste and the only beneficiaries are the lawyers behind it all.

And La wonder why everybody hates them...

Re:Other interesting monies (3, Funny)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953636)

As we know, belief trumps fact./quote>
Is that a fact?

It has been widely believed to be true until studies have proven it to be true

Okay, I'll believe it then.

Re:Other interesting monies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953940)

I don't follow your logic. Google won this ruling exactly because of the DMCA and the fact that the Clinton administration recognized some of the complexities of copyright on the internet. You might not like everything in the DMCA but so what? Like all laws, it's a compromise between many parties and factors that will end up pleasing nobody 100% of the time, but hopefully it'll please everyone at least some of the time.

Today you're happy because YouTube is still online. Tomorrow Viacom will be happy because they got a movie hosting site taken offline. All under the powers of the DMCA. To call it a stupid law is to believe you live in a simple black and white world in which either people agree with you and are smart, or disagree and are stupid. Most people grow out of that stage during their teenage years.

Re:Other interesting monies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32954750)

Clinton passed a slew of bullshit laws that were stuck down. CDA anyone? You could be an ISP, have someone E-mail "fuck" through one end of your network and out the other end, then be hauled into a PMITA prison for 10 years because of that.

Same with the DMCA. It was intended to be outrageous, then the *AA would make "concessions". Same bullshit with ACTA... start at the extreme and "surrender" to the enemy to accomplish the goal of ensuring big returns with no creativity.

The DMCA is a stupid law, and it has done nothing except all the deep pockets the ability to stifle individuals and others without huge legal representation. ACTA is going to be more of the same, except go after countries who don't toe the line.

Re:Other interesting monies (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955034)

Not the "safe harbor" provisions, which is actually quite good and is the law in question.

Re:Other interesting monies (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955422)

Studies do not produce fact. They only produce a slice of fact. Which way you slice is up to you.

Ask Phil Zimmerman (5, Interesting)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953512)

He spent every cent he had, and went into deep deep debt, trying to keep out of jail for a prosecution orchestrated by RSA as a political favor payback by the US government.

Re:Ask Phil Zimmerman (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953730)

He should have used the 2nd amendment [xkcd.com] instead ;)

Re:Ask Phil Zimmerman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32954310)

Economic impoverishment as a price for fighting for your rights is America's form of tyranny. It is favored by the wealthy and corporations. In poor countries where a person typically has little to lose monetarily they have to physically attack a person. Here they just ruin you.

Re:Ask Phil Zimmerman (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954336)

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

A hundred millions? (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953528)

And here I was thinking RIAA's 16M was bad...

McLibel (3, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953552)

It's not always expensive to litigate. The classic example is the one against McDonald's. [mcspotlight.org]

Re:McLibel (1)

demontechie (180612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954720)

While your link is fascinating, how is spending over a decade of your life in court fighting a libel suit and related proceedings not expensive?

Sure, it's not money, but do you consider your time valueless?

What about Viacom? (4, Interesting)

hannson (1369413) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953562)

I'm wondering how much Viacom spent on that lawsuit.

Re:What about Viacom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953772)

I'm wondering how much Viacom spent on that lawsuit.

They don't need to. They just gestate new lawyer drones from the spawning vats for each case and reclaim the organic material for reprocessing and creating newer, more resilient ones.

Sure, there was an initial investment, per se, but now it's paid for itself in the long run.

a legion of lawyers (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953584)

litigating laws that should not exist in the first place

a kind parasitism, that we are all paying for

legal cruft, created by lawyers, in the service of paying lawyers and keeping them busy, but adding nothing whatsoever to society or the common good, serving to do nothing but waste other people's money and time and keep a bunch of pointless people buried under paperwork

what do these people create?

i'd like one of these lawyers in cases as pathetic and pointless as this to actually try to defend their useless existence

how can they wake up in the morning and not put a shotgun in their mouths, so utterly without any redeeming quality is their useless existence?

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953644)

I'd wager it's the piles of money and many extra-marital affairs that keep lawyers from taking their own lives in disgust.

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953756)

Rainer Wolfcastle: The film is just me in front of a brick wall for an hour and a half. It cost $80 million.
Jay Sherman: How do you sleep at night?
Rainer Wolfcastle: On top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies.

Re:a legion of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953672)

put a shotgun in their mouths

I've always been partial to the phrase, "suck-start an M16".

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953752)

This is generally the response of people who can't get their heads around the fact that complicated things are complicated for a reason. People think there's no need for lawyers, or complicated contracts.

Two guys should be able to take out a loan, buy a truck, and start a moving company without a lawyer, right? It happens all the time.
Then, one of the guys moves to Florida, to take care of his ailing mother. Who gets the truck? Who makes the payments? What happens to the guy who stays put, who will now probably have to disolve his business, because his partner ran off?

A good lawyer helps small business people (or large business people) see the pitfalls beforehand, and form agreements before the fact. Most of the really nasty litigation cases (both business and inter-personal/divorce) occur because two parties throw themselves into a situation they haven't fully considered.

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954412)

The problem is when the lawyers cost more than the truck.

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953818)

Well, one could argue that the service the lawyers provide here is to test the boundaries of the law- to raise arguments that expose the practical realities of vague legislation. Was Google covered under safe-harbor? it's up to the lawyers to show us all the reasons they are or aren't, according to the law.

Just playing advocate's advocate

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955322)

The lawyers are not supposed to. The person who REALLY needs to be knowledgeable about such things is the man or woman holding the gavel. They are the ones who are charged with writing the decisions and why they ruled the way they did.

Lawyers are supposed to make their side win above all else. It is the judge who has to be able to cut through the smoke screens and be able to render a decision that will affect the nation's future.

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953914)

So what do you do that is so valuable to society exactly?

Re:a legion of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953976)

Nothing. But that's preferable to being actively harmful.

Re:a legion of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32954904)

Not draining the nation's wealth with lawsuits? At least he isn't part of the problem.

Re:a legion of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32955106)

Draining? Lawyer sues, gets paid, goes and spends the money in the economy. How is it drained?

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

mapuche (41699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953950)

what do these people create?

They are keeping society in peace. With no other way to solve their conflicts, companies or particulars will try to end their problems with violence, just like mobsters do. Ok, you don't want to pay me? BAM. I invented this product, not you... BAM.

Re:a legion of lawyers (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954436)

They are keeping society in peace. With no other way to solve their conflicts, companies or particulars will try to end their problems with violence, just like mobsters do. Ok, you don't want to pay me? BAM. I invented this product, not you... BAM.

Unfortunately, we've reached the point where the legal system is so inaccessible (due both to cost and time) that it is not practical as a way to solve problems either. Its legitimacy is basically inertia; right now, if someone screws you, in nearly every case you just have to take it and move on, as suing will cost you more than it is worth. If someone with a large bankroll sues you (or even threatens to, or even could possibly do so if you're contemplating something they might object to), in nearly every case you just have to give in, as defending it will cost more than it is worth. Thus there ain't no justice. Eventually people will start realizing this and violence over such disputes will go on the rise.

Re:a legion of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32954502)

Simple, because a large number of those who make the laws in this nation are also lawyers themselves.

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954574)

litigating laws that should not exist in the first place

Let me play devils advocate for just a minute here. Say you make a nifty piece if software that everyone wants. You're a small independent company and you spent a boat load of cash developing this product of yours. Maybe you're not looking to get super rich from this. You just want to make enough to cover your overhead and make a bit over and above that. Now your software finds it's way on to every torrent site out there. Now you are potentially losing a lot of money that is rightfully yours. That Lawyer you were just disrespecting is your best friend. The system is not perfect but instead of complaining you could do something instead.

Re:a legion of lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32954682)

Wow. Um, ok.
As a law student and constant slashdot lurker, I'll say to look at this from the beginning.
The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8
[The Congress shall have power:] "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

People have the right to control their creations. This is currently enshrined in the 1976 Copyright Act. Viacom is complaining that Google has liability for copyright violations on its YouTube website, mostly arguing indirect infringement. YouTube isn't actually infringing, but has knowingly established a system by which people can share.

Googles argues that it is merely storing the copyrighted videos and thus is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides safe harbor for storage as long as the storing company engages in proper copyright protection activities.
Viacom and Google are massive companies. Viacom wants to make sure that people aren't stealing its copyrighted content, which is certainly is right. There are issues to be had with the DMCA takedown notice system not lending enough weight to fair use, but ignoring that, Viacom wants the law enforced. It sees Google as knowingly ignoring copyright by creating a system in which people can post copyrighted works and not be found out, such as by posting videos that can be hidden from searches but linked for friends. Google says it has done a great deal to protect copyright holders and has not met the legal standard for liability. The court agreed with Google. Thank Jeebus.

Millions, if not billions, of dollars and an entire industry are at stake. Massive amounts of data and reams of corporate history were used to demonstrate Google's intents and practices. This sort of research and analysis of the law, understanding of case histories and legal histories, overseeing discovery processes, and general process of a suit this important requires years of expertise, not to mention man-hours of work.

Ignoring fair use arguments, which are not really the issue here, how would you decide copyright cases like this? Shall we settle by duel? Or perhaps lawyers should work for free? If you want the best, you have to pay for the best. Certainly professors write about copyright topics for free in law journals. And some lawyers work probono for those who need it. But these companies do not need it. As they have demonstrated, they can pay for it.

Copyright is very fact based and quite reliant upon judge-made precedent rather than written law. Lest we forget that fair use was invented by judges and only later enshrined by legislatures. And if $100 million gets a decision and strong precedent that protects Google, or any online content storage company, from liability, then I say that is money well spent!

Re:a legion of lawyers (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955012)

Thank Metalica, not the lawyers. The lawyers are there because someone lobbied a politician to make a law that someone else disagrees with. The lawyers are there to defend you (for a price) from the idiot that made a law. Who was going to get Lars' money from you dirty pirate? Well they got a lawyer to do it, but you didn't do it, so you get a lawyer to defend you. So the lawyer isn't the problem, Lars is the problem.

And that doesn't even start to count the bribes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953592)

nt

Countries that got smart (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953602)

and kicked out the jews

                    Year Place
                1. 250 Carthage
                2. 415 Alexandria
                3. 554 Diocèse of Clermont (France)
                4. 561 Diocèse of Uzès (France)
                5. 612 Visigoth Spain
                6. 642 Visigoth Empire
                7. 855 Italy
                8. 876 Sens
                9. 1012 Mainz
                10. 1182 France
                11. 1182 Germany
                12. 1276 Upper Bavaria
                13. 1290 England
                14. 1306 France
                15. 1322 France (again)
                16. 1348 Switzerland
                17. 1349 Hielbronn (Germany)
                18. 1349 Saxony
                19. 1349 Hungary
                20. 1360 Hungary
                21. 1370 Belgium
                22. 1380 Slovakia
                23. 1388 Strasbourg
                24. 1394 Germany
                25. 1394 France
                26. 1420 Lyons
                27. 1421 Austria
                28. 1424 Fribourg
                29. 1424 Zurich
                30. 1424 Cologne
                31. 1432 Savoy
                32. 1438 Mainz
                33. 1439 Augsburg
                34. 1442 Netherlands
                35. 1444 Netherlands
                36. 1446 Bavaria
                37. 1453 France
                38. 1453 Breslau
                39. 1454 Wurzburg
                40. 1462 Mainz
                41. 1483 Mainz
                42. 1484 Warsaw
                43. 1485 Vincenza (Italy)
                44. 1492 Spain
                45. 1492 Italy
                46. 1495 Lithuania
                47. 1496 Naples
                48. 1496 Portugal
                49. 1498 Nuremberg
                50. 1498 Navarre
                51. 1510 Brandenberg
                52. 1510 Prussia
                53. 1514 Strasbourg
                54. 1515 Genoa
                55. 1519 Regensburg
                56. 1533 Naples
                57. 1541 Naples
                58. 1542 Prague & Bohemia
                59. 1550 Genoa
                60. 1551 Bavaria
                61. 1555 Pesaro
                62. 1557 Prague
                63. 1559 Austria
                64. 1561 Prague
                65. 1567 Wurzburg
                66. 1569 Papal States
                67. 1571 Brandenburg
                68. 1582 Netherlands
                69. 1582 Hungary
                70. 1593 Brandenburg, Austria
                71. 1597 Cremona, Pavia & Lodi
                72. 1614 Frankfort
                73. 1615 Worms
                74. 1619 Kiev
                75. 1648 Ukraine
                76. 1648 Poland
                77. 1649 Hamburg
                78. 1654 Little Russia (Beylorus)
                79. 1656 Lithuania
                80. 1669 Oran (North Africa)
                81. 1669 Vienna
                82. 1670 Vienna
                83. 1712 Sandomir
                84. 1727 Russia
                85. 1738 Wurtemburg
                86. 1740 Little Russia (Beylorus)
                87. 1744 Prague, Bohemia
                88. 1744 Slovakia
                89. 1744 Livonia
                90. 1745 Moravia
                91. 1753 Kovad (Lithuania)
                92. 1761 Bordeaux
                93. 1772 Deported to the Pale of Settlement (Poland/Russia)
                94. 1775 Warsaw
                95. 1789 Alsace
                96. 1804 Villages in Russia
                97. 1808 Villages & Countrysides (Russia)
                98. 1815 Lbeck & Bremen
                99. 1815 Franconia, Swabia & Bavaria
                100. 1820 Bremen
                101. 1843 Russian Border Austria & Prussia
                102. 1862 Areas in the U.S. under General Grant's Jurisdiction[1]
                103. 1866 Galatz, Romania
                104. 1880s Russia
                105. 1891 Moscow
                106. 1919 Bavaria (foreign born Jews)
                107. 1938-45 Nazi Controlled Areas
                108. 1948 Arab Countries

Re:Countries that got smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32953920)

Got a list for Islamic followers?

Repay? (2, Informative)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953640)

One would assume that Viacom will be required to pay Google's defense fees. And a nice counter suit is always a possibility.
                        Florida has an answer to appeals trials. One is required to post the sum awarded by the lower court as well as a hefty fee to appear before an appeal court. Since it takes three or four years to get to trial as a rule the lost interest on the money as well as the build up of ongoing legal fees generally rules out any hope of an appeal trial giving relief. Then just to put the frosting on the cake the superior court often rules that the case must be kicked down to the first level and decided from scratch all over again. Then it takes another year to get back to court and get a ruling and there is no guarantee that the case will not be appealed a second time. This turns into a case lasting for fifteen years with expenses so great that the person fighting the uphill side of the battle will drown before it is over.

Re: Repay? (4, Insightful)

dachshund (300733) | more than 4 years ago | (#32953764)

Florida has an answer to appeals trials. One is required to post the sum awarded by the lower court as well as a hefty fee to appear before an appeal court. Since it takes three or four years to get to trial as a rule the lost interest on the money as well as the build up of ongoing legal fees generally rules out any hope of an appeal trial giving relief. Then just to put the frosting on the cake the superior court often rules that the case must be kicked down to the first level and decided from scratch all over again. Then it takes another year to get back to court and get a ruling and there is no guarantee that the case will not be appealed a second time. This turns into a case lasting for fifteen years with expenses so great that the person fighting the uphill side of the battle will drown before it is over

First of all, any post beginning with "Florida has an answer" should send you running for the hills. I've dealt with the State of Florida on a few small issues, and it's how I'd like my justice dealt.

More seriously, the problem with this approach is that it has a condition that ensures that someone will "drown fighting the uphill side". In general, any time there's a condition where one party can be "drowned" fighting for their legal rights, you can be certain that the drowning will overwhelmingly be done by those least able to afford the lawyers. It won't necessarily correlate to justice. I think we'd all be better off trying to come up with legal systems that work better for everyone, rather than legal systems that shaft one party in various circumstances.

Hills? In Florida? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32954116)

]]] "Florida has an answer" should send you running for the hills.

Hills? In Florida? Have you been recently?

[I know, maybe some low ones in the northern parts of FL, but certainly not most of the state. ;-) ]

Re:Hills? In Florida? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954316)

Exactly. You'll be running far far away from Florida if you run for the hills.

Re:Hills? In Florida? (1)

iamnobody2 (859379) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954606)

well they'd be running for the hills not in Florida, which certainly seems reasonable to me.

Simple fix (1)

gimpimp (218741) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954030)

make the loser pay the defendants costs. viacom would think twice before entering into such a lengthy law suit that benefits neither viacom nor google's users, regardless of the outcome.
and $100m? wowzers! americans just LOVE money, hey?

Re:Simple fix (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954418)

What happens when I have to sue Google, or Viacom, or whoever? Then they can afford a 100 million dollar defense, while I cannot. Their 100 million dollar lawyers wipe the floor with my legal team, even if I'm 100% in the right. Then I'm on the hook for 100 million dollars, when I was the one wronged in the first place.

Not such a simple fix.

Re:Simple fix (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955522)

That's what contingency fees are for.

When elephants fight... (2, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954370)

Every time two huge corporations duke it out in court, it's always a long protracted battle that can have only ONE clear winner: THE LAWYERS.

How was the money spent? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954626)

I can't load the linked article - but I can't help but wonder if Google spent $100 million because Google could throw that kind of money around without second thought rather than because it truly costs that much.

rights.... (1)

ihxo (16767) | more than 4 years ago | (#32954954)

Google is defending their rights, not your rights.

The only reason Google gets away with it is because they are helping Viacom take away your right.

looser pays (1)

jaclu (66513) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955180)

Whats wrong with the system we have in sweden - looser pays all legal costs.

That way you dont need to counter sue everytime, and even big corps wont take you to court unless they think they'l win

Of course it would hurt if the small guy sues big corp and looses, but thats not different in the us, so I dont think we are worse of in that perspective.

Its not just online (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32955536)

Our rights in any form now goes to the highest bidder.

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