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Google's "Copyright School" Tacitly Admits Liability in Viacom vs YouTube Case

Ironically Google's new "Copyright School" to better educate YouTube users of copyright law and responsibilities, slides Google down the slippery slope of tacitly admitting liability for copyright infringement in Viacom's billion dollar infringement suit against Google-YouTube.   (See Politico's story.)

There are two big takeaways from Google's new "Copyright School."

First, Google continues to basically blame users for copyright infringement while absolving itself of mass facilitation of copyright infringement.

The big open question here is does Google have a "copyright school" for its YouTube engineers/employees and have any of them attended it?

  • It is telling that whenever the company that claims to work for users, gets in trouble, its users' fault not Google's.
  • (Doesn't this sound eerily like Google implying Google's China's security breach was the fault of users not being careful enough?)

Second, why didn't Google do this shortly after it bought YouTube over three years ago?

  • The Viacom vs. Google court documents indicate a Googler described YouTube as a "video Grokster" when Google was internally debating whether or not to buy YouTube.
  • Google knew YouTube's growth and value was almost completely driven by mass copyright infringement.

In sum, Google appears to have gotten itself into a real pickle here with its new "copyright school."

  • For years Google has defended itself from YouTube's mass copyright infringement liability by claiming it has a legal safe harbor for whatever users post and only has to respond if a copyright owner reports a violation.
  • In other words, Google has long denied any responsibility or obligation to do much proactively to curb mass copyright infringement on YouTube.

Now in finally responding to years of political pressure from Congress to be more respectful of copyright, Google has shown that it can indeed be proactive and take more responsibility for mass copyright infringement on its site.

  • This tacit admission and real action should be music to Viacom's ears in its appeal of the Federal Court decision that decided Google enjoyed safe harbor protection from the mass copyright infringement occurring on their YouTube platform.

Now Google has given Viacom new evidence in its copyright case against Google that Google could have done more to stem the copyright infringement but chose not to.

  • Viacom will then explain that while YouTube was still on path to securing its dominance in Internet video, Google had no corporate interest in protecting others' copyright, but now that Google is the dominant Internet video platform and is planning to exploit its dominance by creating its own programming for YouTube -- it is now conveniently in Google's interest to respect others' copyright.

As I have blogged before, expect Viacom to ultimately win the Viacom vs. Google appeal in the Supreme Court because it voted 9-0 in the Grokster case.

  • Google's better-late-than-never admission that it has much more responsibility to combat copyright infringement than it claimed before, greatly weakens Google's case in Viacom vs. Google.

Evidence of Google's ignominious rap sheet only grows.