Viacom: Hoist with their own petard
File this one in your WTF file. First, some context:
Some time in 2007, Viacom filed suit against YouTube, claiming that YouTube’s users were uploading Viacom content to their website, but did nothing to stop it. Furthermore, YouTube was benefiting from this violation by collecting ad revenues associated with the display of that content; an ultimate evil amongst copyright holders. YouTube claims they are protected by the DMCA (always use your powers for good!) because the content was uploaded by users, and YouTube makes a “reasonable” effort to police the uploads.
YouTube’s chief counsel in defense of the lawsuit posted a lengthy repudiation of those claims on the YouTube blog today. This is where it gets really interesting. It appears that not only did Viacom upload their own content to YouTube, whom they are suing for having displayed said content, but they did so surreptitiously. Long quote from the article follows:
For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. 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. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.
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.