Viacom: Google tried to 'coerce' content owners with infringement threat

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Viacom: Google tried to 'coerce' content owners with infringement threat

Thu Apr 15, 2010 @ 03:23PM PST
By Eriq Gardner

Youtube-logo Viacom has released more documents in its $1 billion case against YouTube, hoping to show that the Google site participated in a scheme to violate copyright on some of its most valuable content.

Both sides previously released motions that summed up key arguments, but Viacom took a publicity hit over allegations that its execs were using the video-sharing site to promote Viacom content at the same time they were publicly ripping YouTube.

Viacom today hit back hard in a statement that showcases nine exhibits, now unsealed, which it says shows Google "made a deliberate, calculated business decision not only to profit from copyright infringement, but also to use the threat of copyright infringement to try to coerce rights owners like Viacom into licensing their content on Google's terms."

Of particular interest is a deposition by Google CEO Eric Schmidt in which he's pressed about whether he and other Google executives discussed loosening copyright restrictions to compete with a pre-acquisition YouTube. Schmidt also is questioned about Google's talks with content owners like Viacom over sharing revenue from videos shown on YouTube — the implication being that of coercion.

Viacom also points out that Google employees were warning against acquiring a company like YouTube "sustained by pirated content."

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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

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