YouTube launches attack on Viacom's video tactics

YouTube broadcasts its views online
YouTube broadcasts its views online

YouTube has launched a stinging attack on Viacom, who is currently suing the site, revealing how the company seems to want to have its cake and eat it when it comes to online videos.

In a blog, penned by Zahavah Levine, YouTube Chief Counsel, YouTube explains how Viacom has continued to use underhand tactics to get its videos on the site, despite the media company taking YouTube to court over its copyrighted material, and demanding $1 billion in lost royalties.

"For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there," explains the blog.

"It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately "roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked.

"It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom."

This two-faced approach to how it treats YouTube was continuously flagged by Google, with the blog noting: "Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site.

"As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement.

"In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself."

Policing content

YouTube is using these revelations to prove to the world that it had no idea which videos were illegally put on to the site and which were legitimately (although masked) posted by Viacom.

This is something the site is very worried about: "There is no way YouTube could ever have known which Viacom content was and was not authorised to be on the site," states the blog.

"But Viacom thinks YouTube should somehow have figured it out. The legal rule that Viacom seeks would require YouTube – and every web platform – to investigate and police all content users upload, and would subject those web sites to crushing liability if they get it wrong."

Long been a leader

The court battle between YouTube and Viacom has always been a very public one, but this blog suggests that it is about to turn nasty.

But YouTube is hoping that this transparency will make for a better web.

"YouTube has long been a leader in providing media companies with 21st century tools to control, distribute, and make money from their content online. "Working in cooperation with rights holders, our Content ID system scans over 100 years worth of video every day and lets rights holders choose whether to block, leave up, or monetize those videos.

"This is a true win-win that reflects our long-standing commitment to working with rights holders to give them the choices they want, while advancing YouTube as a platform for creativity."

A creativity that Viacom seems to want to both stifle and be a part of.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.