In 2007, Viacom sued YouTube for a billion dollars. This isn’t a shock. What might shock you is that this lawsuit is still going on, despite the fact that, uh, Viacom and YouTube actually get along really well now.
Here’s what happened: Viacom sued over its intellectual property on YouTube’s servers. YouTube, of course, objected that it scrubs that stuff wherever they find it, and that’s all they can do. Ultimately, Viacom lost because of the “safe harbor” rules in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
But then Viacom appealed, and the result of that appeal are: Google was right, YouTube was right…Viacom can sue Google for a billion dollars anyway.
Here’s the problem: the DMCA’s safe harbor laws have a few weaknesses, as the court has pointed out — there’s enough of a problem that while Google is correct, Viacom still has grounds to sue. Making this weirder is that Viacom has gotten everything it wanted practically speaking — it’s got access to YouTube to remove its copyrighted content, for example, and now Viacom is happy to let its buddy Google rent out its movies and sell its music. Even a billion dollars, after five years of lawyer’s fees, is peanuts to both Google and Viacom, which makes $3 billion or so every four months.
In other words, these companies are wasting millions on what amounts to the legal version of “No, MINE is bigger!”
That’s…that’s just great, guys.
(Image via Viacom)