Viacom-Google Case Now Hollywood vs. Internet?

Contributing Writer

A recent move by Facebook, eBay, and Yahoo has put an interesting twist in Google's legal struggles with media giant Viacom. All three Internet-based companies have filed amicus briefs in favor of Google and its high-volume video streaming service, YouTube. The brief urges the judge presiding over the case to dismiss Viacom's $1 billion copyright lawsuit. They claim that any ruling against Google will violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"[Viacom's] legal arguments, if accepted, would retard the development of the Internet and electronic commerce, create uncertainty for service providers regarding their legal exposure for alleged infringements, and inhabit the growth and development of user-centric online models that, day after day, make the Internet and the world more democratic," reads the brief.

As reported earlier, Viacom filed a lawsuit against Google for hosting copyrighted video clips on YouTube. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims that nearly 160,000 unauthorized clips of Viacom's entertainment programming were available on the YouTube, and were viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

Recently various media groups have taken Viacom's side in the legal battle including Warner Bros (which is now under hot water for supposedly pirating anti-piracy technology), NBC Universal, Disney, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Directors Guild of America. Like the Google alliance, these companies have filed amicus briefs on behalf of Viacom, claiming that Google is not protected under the DMCA.

As it stands now, the legal dispute has bloomed into a war between Hollywood and the Internet. However Viacom seems confident that the courts will rule in its favor.

"The courts have been clear that creating and building a Web-based business on the intellectual property of others is illegal,” a Viacom spokesperson said. "That is exactly what YouTube did in its formative years. Nothing in this case threatens the principles of the DMCA or the ability of legitimate Internet-based businesses to flourish."