Happy New Year, Viacom vs YouTube: Colbert, 'South Park' guys dragged into case

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Happy New Year, Viacom vs YouTube: Colbert, 'South Park' guys dragged into case

Tue Jan 05, 2010 @ 10:45AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Stephen-colbert Will Viacom's massive copyright infringement case against YouTube finally get to trial in 2010?

Don't bet on it.

The discovery portion of the three-year-old case recently ended, but not before some theatrics that raise questions about whether we'll ever get a clear answer on Google's potential liability for hosting infringing content on the video-sharing site.

At a recent gathering of comics, Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert described being interrogated in an "insane" deposition process. "I can tell you the lawyers would say, 'Are you asking Stephen the person or Stephen the character [from the Colbert Report]?'"

At least Colbert made both his personalities available to be deposed.

Trey_parker_matt_stone_south_park In a recent letter to the court, even after discovery supposedly ended, Google lawyer Andrew Schapiro begged the judge to compel "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker to turn over documents. Schapiro described months of unsuccessful efforts to coordinate with Stone and Parker. The judge ultimately ordered the two to comply with the request. A representative for Stone and Parker promised the two will do so, but we'll believe the notorious pranksters when we see the goods.

Google has been trying to show that Viacom employees were among many who uploaded content to YouTube. Recently, in an effort to get past this issue, Viacom withdrew about 250 "accused clips" from its claims. The judge allowed Viacom to do so, prompting the defense to request a hearing, and a response from Viacom, complaining about the complaints.

We feel some sympathy for New York District Judge Louis Stanton as he presides over this case.

Over the past year, many copyright observers have raised doubts to us about whether Judge Stanton has his court in order. The case involves two well-heeled companies — Viacom and Google — and some court watchers question whether the judge has been too lenient in allowing these litigants to drag out the case. 

Next comes what will likely be lengthy motions for summary judgment. 

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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