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Why Google Wanted a YouTube Lawsuit

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the sue-us-please dept.

Media 105

An anonymous reader writes "After YouTube was purchased for $1.6 Billion, there was rampant speculation that Google would soon be waist-deep in billion dollar lawsuits. Despite the enormous liability issues, Google purchased YouTube for a mind-numbing sum, leaving many doubters wondering if Google considered all of costs involved. A theory has been put forth explaining what Google may have been thinking when it bought the company." From the article "Letting YouTube fight this battle alone with their own lawyers might have resulted in a very public and unnecessary loss that would have crippled Google's video ambitions and possibly caused collateral damage to a bunch of related industries (especially search)." In short, the author argues that Google had a lot more to lose had it kept away from YouTube and let the old-media companies crush it with lawsuits."

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Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (5, Insightful)

Reverse Gear (891207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441407)

The sad thing about this is that it actually does make sense that Google should buy Youtube for the reason stated in the OP.

It is really sad how the interpretation has become a matter of who can afford the most lawyers and things like that. I think this is a trend that is seen at it's strongest in the USA but we sure also see this here in Europe and Denmark where I live.
In my simple mind the law should be equal for everyone no matter how much money they have, but that really is being naive these days as far as I can figure.

I don't know if my thinking here is to much influenced by movies like Civil Action [imdb.com] , but then again it claims to be based on a true story (and the movie is almost 10 years old, so I guess this isn't a new trend, at least in the US).

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (4, Insightful)

sarathmenon (751376) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441423)

The good thing is that google is waging the war against the mafiaa rather than you and me. File sharing and DCMA are totally different things, but I'll welcome any adversary against the *AA. If they are clipped off from both sides (content and consumers) some good might come out of it.

Face it, google is the best corporation to take this law suit along, much better than say Apple or Microsoft. I agree they aren't perfect, but for all the things that they do, they simply are one of the better choices.

But, will Google really protect us? (2, Insightful)

gavink42 (1000674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441495)

I'm seriously hoping that things remain open, as far as video sharing goes. But, I feel that if Google makes all sorts of deals with the media companies, we're likely to still end up with restrictions on how/what we share.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443407)

I just think that if enough of them push google into a corner that google will react with it's search engines... I can see it now, every network that is fighting against google will end up being taken off of their search engine so no one can find them through google. I think that right there would seriously change their mind on what the media companies should do. Although I don't like that idea, but since it is a service they offer I could see it happening. But that would be a sad day...

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 7 years ago | (#18460699)

Much as I'd enjoy seeing 'You searched for RIAA. Did you mean to type Incompetent Bloodsucking Parasites?', it's a path Google really shouldn't go down.

If enforcing vigilante-style justice through its search engine power becomes a trend, well, who's next? The wrong political party? Neutrality isn't just about not being evil to the guys we like...

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18461137)

I understand, and I don't want them to go down that path either, but I still see it as a very prominent option for them...

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444789)

I think it's kind of a contrived explanation, personally. The simplest explanation which fits the facts (that is, Occam's Razor) is that Google saw an internet phenomenon, got dollar signs in their eyes, became worried what might happen if Microsoft bought them instead, and overpaid for something with a lot of potential liabilities.

Companies buy other companies all the time. They frequently do this to make more money, they frequently overpay for them, and they frequently purchase companies which end up hurting their business more than helping it. This rarely has anything to do with looking out for the overall health of the industry, and often it ends up hurtng the industry because buying up other companies is a way of keeping technology out of your competitor's hands, and preventing new competitors from arising. "Don't be evil" notwithstanding, I don't see why Google would be that different.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450817)

For a company with intelligent leadership, such as Google, this is not the simplest explanation. However, you are right, if Microsoft bought YouTube, this would clearly be the reason.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18441445)

Before the law, some people are more equal than others. It all comes down to money and who your friends are.

Back to TFA, yes it makes sense. In long terms, google made a good decision.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (2, Insightful)

jforest1 (966315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441567)

2 letters: O.J.

--josh

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (2, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443623)

Not true... O.J. won because anyone else would have done the same damned thing! What... you thought he'd waltz into court and proclaim "Yeah, I killed that cheating bitch and her dildo friend too!"... hellllll no. Homicidal weirdos do that, something O.J. is arguably not.

Money matters in court when that money controls the law. Actors do not control the law. Politicians control the law. Religion controls the law. CEOs of multinational megacorporations control the law. All the other wealthy but non-influential people don't get preferential treatment in court. It doesn't matter whether you have an average-priced experienced lawyer, or a flashy whiz-bang zillion dollar court jester lawyer, as long as you don't have an idiot lawyer you're still in the fight.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

xiong.chiamiov (871823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443749)

What... you thought he'd waltz into court and proclaim "Yeah, I killed that cheating bitch and her dildo friend too!"
Wait, did you miss out on that book he was going to publish? Y'know, the one called "How I Would Have Done It"?

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450919)


Wait, did you miss out on that book he was going to publish? Y'know, the one called "How I Would Have Done It"?

So you expect the jury members to jump into a time machine and read the book? Man, you still haven't gotten over the O.J. verdict.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18447669)

It doesn't matter whether you have an average-priced experienced lawyer, or a flashy whiz-bang zillion dollar court jester lawyer, as long as you don't have an idiot lawyer you're still in the fight.

I'm guessing that you haven't seen a public defender in action. It's can be a sad, sad thing.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (1)

AaronDunlap (953673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442105)

Google will win... no doubt. They understand that it's not possible to legislate intent. Just like shutting down Napster didn't eliminate file sharing... quite the opposite as we all know. It may not be "right", but copyright owners are simply going to have to develop a new understanding of the reality of technology today. & how it affects legacy systems like copyright. And they will...

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18442481)

"claims to be" based on a true story is the operative word. The movie takes some very severe liberties with the truth -- not just the "the movie version of X looks prettier, and speaks more articulately, than the actual person X", either, but "the real Aberjona River has never caught fire, as it is depicted as doing in the movie." The original case is Anne Anderson vs. Cryovac; you might want to do some searching to find out how else the film took liberties so they could tell an exciting story, rather than a fully accurate story.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442633)

Sad it may be, but it is ievitable that money matters in a civil lawsuit. As long as people are allowed to sue to recover just damages, others will be tempted to sue to obtain unjust settlments.

When things come to trial, if our laws are at least reasonably just, then justice has better than even chance. The real problem is the majority of times when things don't come to trial, when defendants pay the plaintiffs to go away; when freedoms are quietly forgone; those are the times that justice is threatened most.

The legal profession should police itself better. It is unethical to use the fear of having to mount a defense to extort money or concessions from people. There is no moral difference between that and using threats of physical force.

Lawyers who are party to legal muggings should be disbarred.

It also matters in the Death penalty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444795)

It also matters in the Death penalty. Case in point, how often have you ever seen a rich person get the death penalty? See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Goldberg [wikipedia.org]

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18443729)

You want big government? This is it. The more power at the center, the more injustice.

No, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

Re:Sad that money means so much in the courtroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18454921)

that reminds me of a little rant of REP Jo Bonner [ucsc.edu] ewww squishy cake

Can anyone confirm? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18441409)

I tried Googling for their reasons, but results aren't conclusive.

Re:Can anyone confirm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18441823)

There was a video up on Youtube that explained it, but it was taken down due to copyright violations.

Re:Can anyone confirm? (1)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 7 years ago | (#18454045)

Can anyone confirm?

Netcraft confirms it!

Bad deal (5, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441421)

By this interpretation, Google could have waited for the lawsuits to start and then buy YouTube for very little money, they could have saved a Billion.

Re:Bad deal (4, Insightful)

Samuel Dravis (964810) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441443)

But then, you see, the other companies would have already won in court, which sets precedent for all video services. Google bought YT to prevent this from occurring.

Re:Bad deal (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445693)

Well, either that would have happened, or else people would have held off suing until YouTube was purchased by someone with deep pockets. Either way, it wouldn't have been so easy to wait for the smoke to clear before buying.

Re:Bad deal (1)

davef139 (790691) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441455)

Most think the only reason they are getting sued it since they know they can get some money out of it. I would have to agree people were just waiting for an aquisition to happen then get lawsuit happy with a company with real money.

Re:Bad deal (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442811)

That's interesting... Google bought YouTube to pick a fight with content providers and set a precedent favorable to their business model (and by coincidence the consumer.) But Viacom may only be suing for a cynical money grab.

If the author of the article is right then Viacom just got severely played.

Re:Bad deal (5, Interesting)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441475)

Then they could not have influenced the result with their lawyers. $100 million in legal costs is nothing to Google if it means a favorable "fair-use" ruling.

The thing is, I'm not sure it will go to their plans, or turn out the way they want. They want a fair use ruling that says as long as they comply with take-down notices, they are free and clear despite making money off of copyrighted content (ad impressions until a video is taken down).

A favorable fair-use will basically cement their (and many others') position that indexing and news indexing/aggregation is legal under fair-use laws. An unfavorable ruling, depending on the judges' wording, could be used as very high-powered ammunition against it by companies that think Google News and other services are "stealing" content. It could also spur unintelligent legislation regarding fair-use.

I'm divided. I want fair-use to be very clear under the law, but I don't think what Google/YouTube is doing is right. Slapping users on the wrists and deleting infringing videos obviously isn't enough to deter infringement.

Re:Bad deal (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441513)

This isn't "fair use". The videos that Viacom has a problem with (at least most of them) are infriging Viocom's copyright. Distributing an entire commercial production is not fair use. What Google want is a ruling that they are not liable for the infringement.

Re:Bad deal (4, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441623)

its not "fair use" for whom? If the courts see Google and simply a carrier then the infringement is being done by the users and not Google. As long as Google takes down any infringments upon notice they are abiding by DMCA. So far the really popular videos on youtube have mostly been homemade stuff that sometimes includes a small bit of soundtrack. These are "fair use" under many interpretations, and Google making ad money from these videos is fine.

What would be interesting is if the courts declare that any ad money made from infringing videos has to be collected and given to the owner.

Re:Bad deal (1)

Some Kind Of Record (829533) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442001)

What you say might sound good in theory, but this is absolutely no different than the original Napster.

First of all, Google is hosting the video files on their servers. This was the one point that made it easy for Napster to lose. Notice all the file sharing software that came later used P2P for a distribution model. (And even can lose in court [technewsworld.com] .

Secondly, Google is financially benefitting from the distribution of these copyrighted files. They are showing ads, so at the very least gaining revenue from that. I'm sure there are many other indirect points that could show them gaining financially (eyeballs, brand loyalty, etc).

Thirdly, it's possible that Viacom has their own video sharing distribution method in the works. With very little work, they could at least start a project in that direction and use it in court that Google is unfairly stripping their business from them. (Look at Verizon suing and WINNING against Vonage. No coincidence that Verizon is now revealing their own VOIP business).

Lastly, it specifically lists in copyright law, that you MUST have permission of the copyright holder to distribute any of their copyrighted material for commercial uses. I would imagine that sending one DMCA notice to Google is a first step before a lawsuit. Google complied and took down Viacom copyrighted video. But all it takes is one more user to post yet another Viacom video, and suddenly we fall under a situation that already has precedence in court: Google will have to take a huge proactive step in developing software that can detect copyrighted vs. personal videos before being allowed to post a video to youtube. Viacom shouldn't have to troll the whole of YouTube every day to find their videos and resubmit DMCA notices for each one.

Re:Bad deal (2, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442317)

Nope, the Napster lawsuit hinged on infringing content being their primary content. Napster has SOME legal content, but it was the minority. Youtubes content is primarily non infringing . Go read the Napster case, really the that was the major breaking point was the fact that the infringing content was most of it.

Re:Bad deal (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442083)

its not "fair use" for whom?

Under the legal definition of Fair use.

if the courts see Google and simply a carrier then the infringement is being done by the users and not Google.

Which would give Google immunity under Safe Harbor provisions ofthe DMCA. Not under Fair use exceptions to copyright.

So far the really popular videos on youtube have mostly been homemade stuff that sometimes includes a small bit of soundtrack. These are "fair use" under many interpretations, and Google making ad money from these videos is fine.

It's a stretch. Google has made a deal with most of the music companies, but this case isn;t about that. It's about TV clips created by Viacom.

What would be interesting is if the courts declare that any ad money made from infringing videos has to be collected and given to the owner.

But this wouldn't happen unless Viacom asked for it. Courts typically don't come up with creative solutions. That's up to the plaintiff.

Re:Bad deal (2, Informative)

Jamil Karim (931849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443157)

What would be interesting is if the courts declare that any ad money made from infringing videos has to be collected and given to the owner.


YouTube doesn't put any ads on the pages where clips are played. Take a look. They only put ads on the search pages, home page, etc. The reason for this is that if they had ads on clip pages, they could potentially lose the protection of the Safe Harbors under the DMCA. YouTube has been very careful to give itself a legal ground to stand on if they ever went to court.

This article [hollywoodreporteresq.com] explains it much better than I can -- and it is well written. =)

Re:Bad deal (1)

swanriversean (928620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442235)

If YouTube is the distribution media, and so we're suing the company that owns that media ...
Why don't we sue ISPs who provide the basic media for file sharing? In Canada, we already have a levy on blank media ...

(I know it should be simple to argue the difference between hosting a complete work, and just having various bytes flowing through a network ... but with the DMCA, if it is illegal to have a copy of DeCSS, maybe it should be illegal to have an Internet connection ...)

But then, haven't people who host unmoderated forums already been found not responsible for what the users of the forums post?

I thought the law was based on reason ... too bad the people who usually write them are so often rewarded for pandering to unreason.

Re:Bad deal (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444077)

What Google possibly wants (pure speculation on my behalf) is for copyrighted material to be harmlessly removed without a lawsuit. You know, much like all the shady sites that say "If you find copyrighted material, just let me know and I'll take it down" which is NOT legal, at least not right now. Ignorance of copyright infringement does not make it any less of a crime. If Google can somehow change that, it means anyone could post anything, as long as any infringing content is taken down if the copyright owner throws a fit. Some companies will just start mass-faxing takedown notices, but some will embrace the free distribution and viral popularity. Indeed, this could mark the beginning of copyright reform... or I could be simply daydreaming. Only Google knows for sure.

Re:Bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18458043)

You know, much like all the shady sites that say "If you find copyrighted material, just let me know and I'll take it down" which is NOT legal, at least not right now.
Perhaps you'd best read up on the "safe harbor" provision of the DMCA.

Re:Bad deal (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#18473677)

I have. Here's how it goes:

In order to qualify for safe harbor protection, an OSP must:

        * have no knowledge of, or financial benefit from, the infringing activity
        * provide proper notification of its policies to its subscribers
        * set up an agent to deal with copyright complaints


Google certainly has a financial benefit from hosting infringing content, as it attracts viewers which translate into advertising revenue. I don't think the safe harbor provisions apply. In any case, it's a gray area because if there's anything america has proven over the last decade, it's that even the most well written laws are subject to interpretation and manipulation. I think Google makes money from copyrighted material, but Google's lawyers would certainly argue to the contrary. Given that they have a shitload of legal jargon with which to confuse their audience, and I merely have simple stated facts, the lawyer could probably pwn me in court. Just look at the Chewbacca defense, throwing bullshit at jurors until their brain effectively shuts off. That's how court battles are often won, because let's face it: if it were a clear black-on-white case, we wouldn't need courtrooms to debate the issue, we'd just throw the bastards in jail and go back to our thoughtless, joyless totalitarian regimes.

Re:Bad deal (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441573)

but I don't think what Google/YouTube is doing is right. Slapping users on the wrists and deletinginfringing videos obviously isn't enough to deter infringement.

In a FEW situations (full pre-release TV episodes,) GooTube has some grossly infringing content. That represents a problem they need to address.

For the vast majority of the rest, calling it "infringement" amounts to saying we don't have the right to our own culture.

The crappy low-quality content on YouTube won't deprive anyone of sales. If anything, it will increase sales by reminding people of little bits of their past which they want to recapture (eg, cheesy 80's videos and saturday morning cartoons); It gives the best possible advertising for shows like The Colbert Report; It lets us all make fun of the latest absurdity uttered by the president (or Pelosi, Boxer, or [insert your least favorite politician here], they all count as pretty much equally worthless). Unfortunately, copyright law doesn't care about that - It cares only that the copyright holder (rarely the "artist", so don't even go there) didn't give permission. That must change if copyright will survive the next few years with any meaning at all.

And if we don't see a massive copyright reform in the near future? Well... Ask any 16YO whether or not they consider it "wrong" to copy a CD. Copyright has fallen to the level of speeding as a socially-acceptible crime; we all know we might get caught, we all do it anyway, and we don't care. Except, rather than a $150 fine, you can get a $150,000 fine. Ouch.

Re:Bad deal (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441789)

For the vast majority of the rest, calling it "infringement" amounts
to saying we don't have the right to our own culture.
Yup, and thats the law. Feeling its wrong, having it be common sense its wrong doesn't make it legal.

Changing the law will make it legal.

Re:Bad deal (3, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441891)

Yup, and thats the law. Feeling its wrong, having it be common sense its wrong doesn't make it legal.

Changing the law will make it legal.

So in that case you wouldn't mind if someone with deep pockets were to attempt to bring about a change in that law by using its legal muscle to help establish a favourable precedent?

Well, Go Google!

Re:Bad deal (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443233)

Seems ungood, but then again...

We got to where we are today with copyright law, because "people with deep pockets (??AA) attempted (and succeeded) to bring about changes in that law by using their legal muscle to help establish favorable (to them) legal precedents."

Too bad that ordinary people have gotten completely lost in the shuffle.

We're back to the Renaissance patronage system.

Re:Bad deal (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444215)

We're back to the Renaissance patronage system.

Which would make the system broken, perhaps, but doesn't mean that Google is doing a bad thing with this action.

It's nice to see one of the players pushing in the other direction for once. That's all.

Re:Bad deal (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18449263)

I don't disagree what what Google is doing is good.

But the system IS broken, and while Google IS doing good. In the Renaissance, ability pay for materials as well as the basics of life drove the need for Patrons in order to do art and science. Today between the quagmire of I.P Law and the fact that our legal system has become deep-pockets based have driven us back in time, to Patronage.

Re:Bad deal (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18455651)

Today between the quagmire of I.P Law and the fact that our legal system has become deep-pockets based have driven us back in time, to Patronage.

By all means, let's fix the system. But any program of reform is going to be hard sell. On the one hand the various vested interests are going to oppose anything that might remove their snouts from the gravy train. On the other, I think a lot of people are increasingly sceptical of anyone throwing the word "reform" around, given the Orwellian usage favoured by modern politicians.

That said, I'm always interested in good ideas to improve the situation.

Re:Bad deal (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442367)

Except, rather than a $150 fine, you can get a $150,000 fine.

That's the statutory maximum. In reality they'll get the statutory minimum, which is $750. Except it's per work, so for a CD of MP3s (~200@3.5MB) you're back at $150,000.

It's one thing to have something of a hard minimum (if you agree that it should be illegal in the first place...), for example you get a relatively high penalty for stealing $1 of gum and then you should presumably do the same for infringing on 99c worth of IP. Otherwise it is simply too costly to enforce, the risk too low and no deterrant at all.

However, it shouldn't scale like that. Say you get a $100 fine for stealing that gum (I don't think that's a high estimate), so 100:1 ratio. If you steal a $300 iPod, you're not given a $30,000 fine.

Re:Bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18442473)

Ask any 16YO whether or not they consider it "wrong" to copy a CD

Too bad 16YO's can't vote or pass legislation through Congress. I believe that if people don't have a right to make money off of media they create they'll just stop creating it, or at least in the quality that we have all grown used to. Pirating exists mostly because the largest consumer of pirated media is the largest target audience of the business, and unfortunately for their business model, we now live in a world where their product, targeted for a group with the lowest purchasing power (sub-adults without jobs), can be replicated and distributed freely and independently.

MP3s became widely available about 10 years ago, so those of us who were broke teenagers then are now 20-somethings. While I can only speak for myself, my opinion about pirating has changed, mostly because now I have the money to spend, and I suspect the same is true for most people who grew up "in the scene". I don't mind paying the artists (and their coprorate infrastructure which makes their careers possible) because $15 for a CD is a laughable sum of money at this point in my life. To a 16YO that's a weekly allowance or 4 hours stocking shelves. I also have a different respect for all these nefarious rapscallions in the music business (and their lawyers) who are suing the pirates. When you stop being a responsibility-free 16YO and start having to pay a mortgage, it's much easier to forgive the corporate infrastructure that funds the glamorous celebrity rock stars that whose "art" we loved so much to steal for trying to protect their abilities to pay their mortgages and feed their children. They have a legal card to play and they'd be stupid not to take advantage of their legal protection.

Copyright reform is not as cut and dry as it probably seems to the people who are consuming pirated goods. The entire legal structure of copyright is designed to protect the livelihood of people who create things worth copying. Possession is 9/10ths of the law.

Re:Bad deal (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442767)

I believe that if people don't have a right to make money off of media they create they'll just stop creating it,

You can believe anything you want, but all of human history up to the past few centuries has proven that idea false. People create because we use it as a form of expression. The fact that we can get paid, for doing something we'd do anyway, just adds frosting to the cake.

If you don't like the historical argument, though, you have counterexamples even in the present. Go to any local club on a Friday or Saturday night. See those guys up on stage? They'll probably make enough to cover their bar tab. They play because they love doing it, not because they plan to make a killing off it. Some minor-celebrity local groups might scrounge a living out of it playing full-time. But again, frosting, not the cake itself.



for trying to protect their abilities to pay their mortgages and feed their children.

You mean the same artists that need to repeatedly SUE their labels to get even the meagre compensation guaranteed them by contract? Yeah, can you hear the violins?

Re:Bad deal (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443189)

I more or less 100% agree, I think www.drawball.com (dispite my dislike of its implementation) is a good example of free expression without pay for example. That said I think while people won't ever stop being (or at least trying to be) creative they generally will take their creativity to whever the frosting is at.

Re:Bad deal (1)

Random832 (694525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443139)

Too bad 16YO's can't vote or pass legislation through Congress.

They will be able to vote in two years.

In theory, they will be able to pass legislation through Congress in nine years, through the Senate in fourteen, and past the president's desk in nineteen.

Re:Bad deal (1)

joe_kull (238178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443511)

And if we don't see a massive copyright reform in the near future? Well... Ask any 16YO whether or not they consider it "wrong" to copy a CD. Copyright has fallen to the level of speeding as a socially-acceptible crime; we all know we might get caught, we all do it anyway, and we don't care. Except, rather than a $150 fine, you can get a $150,000 fine. Ouch.
Maybe a bit off-topic, but maybe this is a good example of when punishment as deterrence doesn't work. Most people break the law because they don't consider what could happen if they get caught, not because they think it will be worth it even if they do.

Re:Bad deal (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445711)

Except, rather than a $150 fine, you can get a $150,000 fine. Ouch.

Well, the Romans had a better idea for keeping an orderly society, and bolstering law enforcement. Stiffer penalties. Like slavery. Crucifixion. Forced entertainment (being the star of the weekly "Feed the Lions" show at the coliseum). $150,000 isn't enough to deter these violators. We need some real penalties. After all, the stiff penalties the Romans used worked out so well for them.

Re:Bad deal (2, Insightful)

Orbruelor (863009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442289)

Should ISPs be any more liable then as well? If I upload a copyrighted mp3 or avi to my personal account, or rapidshare, or megaupload, etc etc - why should anyone other than the uploader be responsible?

Re:Bad deal (1)

asninn (1071320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444747)

I want fair-use to be very clear under the law, but I don't think what Google/YouTube is doing is right. Slapping users on the wrists and deleting infringing videos obviously isn't enough to deter infringement.

Why not?

It's often said that guns don't kill but that people do, using guns; and most people, I assume, would agree that totally outlawing guns because they *might* be used for illegitimate purposes would be unjustified (even those who, like me, are in favour of tougher gun control laws). And isn't killing people a much, MUCH more serious issue than the copyright infringement that occurs when somebody posts a 2 minute clip from an old BBC show that ran in the 60s on YouTube?

There is a reason why we don't blame tools for what they're being used for, and "safe harbour" provisions for service providers make sense for the same reason. As long as providers do take down infringing material when they're notified, I don't see the issue here. Your phone company does not preemptively monitor your calls, your bank does not track all of your purchases in a huge database that gets shared with the NSA (well, one'd hope they don't), and cops don't pull you over on the road and give you a ticket merely because your car is capable of going higher than the speed limit allows. So why should service/platform providers have to watch users' activities just because something illegal *might* happen?

Myself, I don't hope for a fair-use ruling: I hope for a ruling that says that as long as Google etc. only provide the platform instead of making videos etc. available themselves, they don't even NEED to argue that what they're doing is fair use. (Of course, this only really applies to Google Video, YouTube etc.; Google News would still need a fair use ruling, but that's a different case.)

(Also, I should add that the above only addresses the legal side of things. Others have already raised the question of whether certain activities should be considered criminal at all; it ultimately boils down to the question of who owns culture and who's got the rights to exploit and control it. I firmly believe that copyright holders should be reminded that they have been given a *temporary* monopoly as an incentive to further culture, and nothing else.)

What, you want Singapore's laws? (1)

Geof (153857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445539)

I don't think what Google/YouTube is doing is right. Slapping users on the wrists and deleting infringing videos obviously isn't enough to deter infringement

There's litter all over my neighborhood. Obviously current enforcement isn't enough to keep it clean. Should we escalate the penalties until the litter stops? Much of that litter is from the local McDonald's - shouldn't they be doing something to stop this menace? (If I could think of something they could reasonably do I'd be all for it, but I can't. I'm certainly not going to propose taking away their business license because their customers suck.)

We don't pass laws to produce perfect compliance. Attempts to do that - such as the "War on Drugs" - seldom succeed; the consequences are often worse than the original problem. Persistent lawbreaking, in and of itself, is never sufficient grounds for strengthening the law. Unfortunately, copyright enforcement in the U.S. seems to be following the path blazed by the drug enforcement.

To be fair, you say you're divided about fair-use rights vs infringement on YouTube. But from your phrasing, it appears that the effectiveness of anti-infringement efforts is the deciding question.

To agree with other responses to you, personally I think this infringement is about as bad as littering. Actually, littering is probably worse, as it is a gateway to worse crimes (see broken window theory [wikipedia.org] ).

I take it back - litter is much worse (1)

Geof (153857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445885)

I compared copyright infringement to littering. But every method I can think of for preventing infringement for personal use does more harm (social, economic, and political) than good. I can imagine a world in which there is no prohibition on personal copying - and I think it would be a better world. Of course, that's not the world we live in, and there is some harm done even when a bad law is broken (for some laws, the good of breaking the law may exceed the harm). Litter, in contrast, would still be a problem even if it were permitted.

So I don't really believe that (private) infringement is about as bad as littering. I think littering is much worse.

Re:Bad deal (1)

magixman (883752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18454639)

The thing is, I'm not sure it will go to their plans, or turn out the way they want. They want a fair use ruling that says as long as they comply with take-down notices, they are free and clear despite making money off of copyrighted content (ad impressions until a video is taken down).
I don't think Google are stupid enough to think that the current "oh is this infringing? Sorry about that. We'll nuke it immediately" practice will stand. That part of the DMCA is absurd and Google knows it. As a company with a state mission of "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful", they will have to be at the center of the IP debate and that means having "skin in the game". 1.65M plus that again in legal fees (if need be) is an appropriate amount of "skin" for their stake in this.

Re:Bad deal (3, Insightful)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441477)

Yes. Another day, another person who does not have any actual inside information into Google, attempts to guess why they are too brilliant to not have made a mistake buying Youtube.

Big companies CAN make mistakes, I dont know if Google has or not and I have no less insight into Google than anyone else here.

Re:Bad deal (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441485)

True, but to a certain extent, Google was also the bait for the lawsuit. YouTube didn't have enough money to really sue for, Google does. If they article is correct (and I think it may be) Google would have wanted to be involved at the very outset of the litigation.

Re:Bad deal (1)

BAM0027 (82813) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441671)

That would have been impractical when considering Google to be a public company with stockholders. If they did that, they would have "looked stupid" purchasing a company in the throes of suit, their shares would have plummeted, and public opinion would have been confused. As it stands, they looked great, their stocks benefited from the purchase (IIRC), and they have us marveling at their forethought.

That's savvy, IMHO.

Re:Bad deal (2, Informative)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442025)

You are just a Common Stock Holder and not a preferred one. Remember: common stock holders contain only very little voting power versus preferred stock.
So Page can outvote us anytime.
See ya...

not likely (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18441431)

Google could have filed amicus briefings on behalf of the defendant (they did so a couple years ago when yahoo was being sued).

But the proposition is backwards. youtube had no money or revenue. Google has both. That's a big red "sue me" sign stapled on their back.

Re:not likely (4, Insightful)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441655)

Google could spend millions/billions on amicus filling to defend YouTube, but as soon as it looked like they might win the media companies would cut a deal with YouTube and no legal precedent would be established.

By owning YouTube the can know at least know they might win.

Re:not likely (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444229)

Also Google has the money to fight, YouTube could face bankruptcy through litigation. Anyone suing them now knows they better be damned sure they are in their rights to do so or they are in for a world of hurt.

Re:not likely (1)

vector_prime (575757) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445105)

youtube had no money or revenue. Google has both. That's a big red "sue me" sign stapled on their back.
It's a big red "sue me" sign if your goal is to actually recover damages, but Viacom and the hordes sure to follow it don't really need or want the billion dollars they're asking for. They want youtube style video either dead or changed completely to suit their interests. Consider, a huge settlemnet from a startup buys you either controlling stock in that company or its imminent demise. A huge settlement from Google gets you a billion dollar check and a shrug.

A theory what Google may have been thinking: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18441437)

Goooooooooooooooooooooooogleeee.... Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig!!!!

Amicus curiae (5, Insightful)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441511)

Thats why they have Amicus curiae briefs. If Google just wanted to help YouTube defend themselves, they could have filed such a brief for much less than the 1.6 billion (or whatever it was) they spent on YouTube. Or if they really wanted to take an active role in the lawsuit, they could have waited for it to be filed and then bail out YouTube for much less money. Though its questionable whether or not they would have ever been sued in the first place had YouTube not been bought by someone who could pay up.

No matter how you cut it, this would have been a silly strategy. Can we please stop pretending we are on Google's board of directors and posting all this speculative BS on what we think they are doing or will do in the future? Please?

Re:Amicus curiae (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441565)

You're missing the point. The lawsuit wouldn't be about collecting a fat paycheck, but about killing the competition and possibly "video online." You tube before had no money and no money to defend itself... Google has lots of money to defend itself, add to that they spent 1.6 billion this says they are going to defend their new purchase with lots of capital.

Re:Amicus curiae (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450883)

Again, the point of an amicus curiae brief is that an outside party like Google could assist You Tube's defense without actually buying them out. The only way this 1.6 billion deal (or however much it was) affects Google's position in this lawsuit is that now if they lose, Google has to shell out even more money to the media companies. And if they really wanted to take an active role in all of this, buying You Tube after the lawsuit would have saved them a lot of money (though then again, its unlikely You Tube was worth that much to start with).

Re:Amicus curiae (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18456251)

When amazon goes around enforcing there 1 click patent, they pick small weak targets. Surely some large corporation could file an Amicus curiae. My point is though anyone wanting to sue you-tube was not to get rich, no they just wanted to squelch it.

Re:Amicus curiae (5, Interesting)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441803)

I would guess that it would be a pretty stupid reason to buy YouTube. I imagine the reasons for buying YouTube go far beyond just wanting to be a target for a lawsuit. However, it may have been seen as a bonus possible outcome. "If we buy this, someone might decide to go sue happy on us, and then we can likely crush that nonsense, make a big public showing of the ordeal, and secure our business that drove us to buy YouTube from future assault".

Re:Amicus curiae (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450939)

I'm sure everyone at Google would have much preferred the media companies turn a blind eye to online video rather than file a lawsuit (which even if they lose, its still going to cost a lot of money). Well not everyone, the lawyers themselves might like the big fees they are now collecting...

Re:Amicus curiae (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#18457009)

Not in America. Blind eye = surprise lawsuit potential. If they are ignoring you they can exert undue influence and it becomes a waiting game of WHEN they will file not if (when being when you quit playing ball with their back room demands). In our legal system it would allow them to set a precedent if they win.

Re:Amicus curiae (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442835)

Thats why they have Amicus curiae briefs. If Google just wanted to help YouTube defend themselves, they could have filed such a brief for much less than the 1.6 billion (or whatever it was) they spent on YouTube. Or if they really wanted to take an active role in the lawsuit, they could have waited for it to be filed and then bail out YouTube for much less money. Though its questionable whether or not they would have ever been sued in the first place had YouTube not been bought by someone who could pay up.

As mentioned, that runs the risk that 'Tube cuts a sweetheart deal with the labels before Google can do it. As it stands, I'd have to imagine the spectre of a lawsuit was included in the YouTube purchase price; it's not like you needed a crystal ball to see this coming. So I'm sure Google knew what they were getting into.

Re:Amicus curiae (1)

nwbvt (768631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18451051)

"As mentioned, that runs the risk that 'Tube cuts a sweetheart deal with the labels before Google can do it."

If You Tube cut a deal, that would in no way set a legal precedent that Google would then have to follow with its own video service. In fact, that would make it much easier for their own service, unrestricted by the terms of the deal, to overtake YouTube in popularity.

"As it stands, I'd have to imagine the spectre of a lawsuit was included in the YouTube purchase price"

I'd really hate to see the price before considering the potential lawsuit. But there is a big difference between a potential lawsuit that may possibly be filed and one that has actually been filed. The latter would have brought the price down much more.

Re:Amicus curiae (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18446573)

Google has more money than they can possibly use, so why not throw around a few billion? Besides, I don't think their business is in much danger. Adwords is expensive and a ripoff to any knowledgeable SEO'er, but I don't see many of them around ;-]

Re:Amicus curiae (1)

frizop (831236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18448831)

Could the value of YT somehow sway the opinion of people? I tend to wonder if there wasn't more going on there. I mean, Google knew the lawsuit was coming, and they knew they could defend YT. But 1.6b is a large sum of money. I tend to ask myself questions about these sort of things.

They hired too many lawyers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18441531)

...who now have nothing to do? Yeah, sure they wanted it...

Alright! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18441569)

So I have to carry a "Sue me!" sign around to get bought by Google because they want to prevent being sued too for carrying a more or less similar sign around?

Sounds like a business model.

Re:Alright! (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443325)

Although I'm not sure I agree with the idea that Google wants to attract lawsuits, it does actually happen that a company will occasionally court a court action (sorry, bad pun not intended) simply to establish a precedent which works in their favour - if such a precedent can be established it renders a company previously treading on legal thin ice suddenly much more investable, or makes a legally grey area suddenly less of a risk for massive investment. Sometimes it's better to get the lawsuits out of the way early to know whether it's worth carrying on.

Why not just pay for the lawyers? (3, Insightful)

skubeedooo (826094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441627)

But the third point -- Expand and protect current fair use related provisions involving copying intellectual property -- is the most important for Google.

If that were the case, google could just donate money to youtube to pay for their legal defence, and not get involved with actually owning the company. It would cost an insignificant amount relative to the $1.6B purchase fee, and they wouldn't have to pay damages in the event of defeat.

Re:Why not just pay for the lawyers? (1)

n00kie (986574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442709)

You're missing the point. Viacom wouldn't have sued YT if Google hadn't bought it in the first place.

Re:Why not just pay for the lawyers? (4, Interesting)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442793)

Interesting idea, look how well it is working for M$ and SCO. M$ isn't tied to the rise and fall of SCO.

There are two issues with this though:
1) Google has no incentive to continue on the fight, other than their own personal liability on Google Video, and considering it is almost the same thing you may as well own the other company. In the M$ SCO case, it's plaintiff not defendant that M$ is supporting.
2) Iff Google spent a tonne of cash on YouTube in defence and won, YouTube would undoubtedly be worth a lot more and likely be a prime candidate for purchase as their liability aspects had been tried out in court.

My $0.02

Re:Why not just pay for the lawyers? (1)

vokyvsd (979677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443101)

Right, hence the other point of the article: they also bought it to become number one in the internet video market. First and foremost, they were paying for market dominance; the chance to get favorable rulings was secondary.

Re:Why not just pay for the lawyers? (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445697)

Google are playing to win. Plus they'd so rather YouTube didn't exist than belonged to somebody else, that they are prepared to be holding the package when it blows up in their face.

If they just paid YouTube's legal costs, and YouTube won, then YouTube would have ended up being worth even more than Google already paid for them -- and someone other than Google would end up owning YouTube. Not that anyone would be suing YouTube if they weren't owned by somebody rich; prior to the Google purchase, YouTube had no assets worth suing for.

So Google bought YouTube when the risk of lawsuits was low. Now YouTube are worth something, the vultures are circling. If Google win the small victory (safe harbour protection under the US DMCA) then that's good. If they win the big victory (Fair Use) then that's even better. Meanwhile, nobody with a pound less than Google dares open a competing video-sharing site. And even if somehow Google manage to lose, there won't be another YouTube competitor -- ever.

Righttttttt (2, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441651)

Thats why they paid over the odds for a company begging to be sued so they could turn it into a target too rich to resist.

Its far more likely Google wanted to be a dominant player in a market other than search so badly they forked out the $1.6 billion knowing a lawsuit would likely follow if they could not negotiate a quick settlement and apparently in the process overvalued not just youtube but also the amount of clout they hold with the content providers.

It was an act of hubris not a brilliant strategy! (3, Insightful)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 7 years ago | (#18441755)

I'd bet money that Google bought YouTube to get face time/leverage with television/movie execs. Google has failed miserably to get the entertainment folks on board. I think they made an expensive gamble that they could leverage YouTube to get the studios on board and they lost.

It's ALL about who posts the content (1)

naily (672109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18443417)

What Google were trying to influence were the creators of content. If you don't want your content mis-represented or ripped off, then post first.

All they need to do is give content owners first dibs on content creation and presentation (and possibly quality options) on GooTube. It's just a giant moving billboard, and the content owners want more influence on how their content is presented, and how their revenues are derived.

For the guys suing them this is just negotiation by other means.

They didn't pay with real money (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18442193)

They paid in stock, which they basically printed themselves. Not the same thing as actual dollars. Valuable yes, but not the same.

Re:YES THEY DID (3, Insightful)

demastri (579215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442521)

If a company issues stock for a purchase, it dilutes the existing stock base, so it isn't like they're creating value out of thin air. if 100 shares exist, and the company's worth $100K, the shares are worth 1K each. If they print another 100 shares, all 200 are worth $500 each. Usually, stock used for purchase is already "printed" but part of the reserves of the company, so it doesn't devalue the shares, but that actual value of ownership (just as if it had been bought at market with cash) transfers to the designee.

it's EXACTLY like they paid cash, and then they took the cash and bought stock at market with it. It certainly isn't "printing money" like you implied. If you think the company will go up, it's better than cash. Since the market's open to sell the stock, they can dump it for cash and get full value for it.

Simple econ. Stop trying to make a normal business transaction sound like something nefarious...

Re:YES THEY DID (1)

mbrod (19122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442903)

It is not even close to being cash. They are giving the owners of YT ownership in Google. If it was cash they would be giving the owners only cash, and they would have no ownership in Google, unless of course they used the money to buy some. The Google stock is not the same as cash because right now Google's stock is over valued compared to other companies. If you think in the future there will be someone willing to pay even more for it then yes it could be worth more than the cash, but only if you sell it then and all of that is SPECULATION. Cash is not speculation.

So to one perspective it might be cheaper than 1.6 billion in cash and to another it might be more expensive than the 1.6 billion. However, one of them is based on speculation and one isn't.

Google's stock price is more volatile than the value of cash.

Re:YES THEY DID (1)

oatworm (969674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18450485)

The value of cash is pretty volatile as well - maybe not quite as much so as Google stock, but certainly volatile nonetheless.

In the case of the United States, the Dollar has been fairly consistently falling against the Euro for the past 120 days [x-rates.com] or so.

Re:YES THEY DID (1)

demastri (579215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18465329)

It could only be speculation from the buyer's perspective. Since there's still an open market, from their view it's EXACTLY identical to being paid in cash and deciding to invest the cash in Google stock.

From Google's perspective, there's no speculation. Their balance sheet is EXACTLY as if they sold held stock for cash for the transaction, and paid for the transaction with cash.

Volitility doesn't come into play for Google - they paid an expense with a fungible commodity. Once ownership's transferred, for Google, it's identical to the same transaction carried out with cash.

For the new stock owners, if they want to keep the stock, fine, but it isn't like Google didn't PAY $1 for $1 stated worth of transaction, that just isn't supportable, and that's what this conversation started with.

Napster? (1)

tehtest (995812) | more than 7 years ago | (#18442423)

I can't help but think back to Napster. Its obvious that if YouTube was left alone, it would eventually be crippled by lawsuits. I could picture YouTube becoming something like Napster2, "merging" with one of its plaintiffs. Makes me wunder what the world would be like now if Google was around to buy Napster back in the day, spooky....

Quite possibly true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18443363)

Whether this rationale was actually Google's reason or not, it certainly makes sense from a legal perspective.

I was involved in a copyright dispute in federal court that was even more unbalanced financially than one that would have pitted YouTube alone. From the intitial documents filed by the opposing lawyers (and sadly, a major publisher), it was clear that the lawyers involved were hoping to bring the precedent of a much criticized 1998 Second Circuit (New York) decision involving a book called the Seinfeld Aptitude Test into the equally important Ninth Circuit (West Coast). I was to be a victim too poor to mount an effective defense. That, coupled with a naive judge (should they draw one), would place the two most important IP districts under Castle Rock (the bad 1998 decision). And it would make it virtually impossible to write about popular fiction (Seinfeld, Star Trek, and Godzilla movies had already been impacted) as anything other than dry literary criticism without paying the copyright holder. Very, very nasty. I had the lawyer for a university press tell me that the mere threat of the legal dispute I was facing had caused them to quite publishing books about popular contemporary fiction.

Fortunately, the lawsuit was assigned to a brilliant judge and, with some good advice from various lawyers, I created a powerful enough argument for fair use that the opposing side bailed out at summary judgment, followed by the judge dismissing their lawsuit "with prejudice." My book is now in print.

Unfortunately, I had neither the money nor the skill to force this case to last long enough to overthrow the infamous 1998 Castle Rock decision. I had a lawyer tell me that if I'd won at a district court trial, and if I'd also won at the appeals level, my case would have then be binding in the Ninth circuit, putting it at odds with the Second circuit, and putting it on a fast track for the Supreme Court. Only then would that 1998 decision be null and void. As it stands now, it remains a threat hanging over publishers. So in the end, although I won despite a legal system heavily loaded in favor of the deep-pocketed, the 'bad guys' were able to retreat, lick their wounds and prepare for another attack.

In short, the only upside to our legal system's heavy tilt in favor of those with money is the fact that from time to time we see two powerful sides contending, eventually setting a precedent that may benefit the rest of us. That's what we have here.

My thoughts... (1)

Grinin (1050028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444131)

I thought they were ready to tackle Copyright reform. We read about the UK reforming Copyright laws, and I think its time companies with some smarts tackle the same issues stateside. It would be really nice if Google is able to help start a movement towards Copyright reform.

tacHo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18446219)

both believed 7hat fea(r the reaper empire in decline, time wholesome and

Then why didn't Google wait until such a lawsuit (0, Redundant)

microbee (682094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18448315)

Then bought YouTube with a discount?
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