So Viacom has slapped Google (or YouTube) with a $1-billion lawsuit for blatant copyright infringement on a massive scale, according to the entertainment conglomerate’s claim. On a side note, have you ever noticed how people invariably get slapped with lawsuits? Not just hit — slapped. And a big thick lawsuit would hurt, I bet. Especially legal paper.
But seriously, is anyone surprised by this? I’m willing to admit that Viacom might have a point about a few things, such as the copies of copyrighted material that pop up right after a clip is taken down, or the inability to search for more than 1,000 clips, etc. But those are really technicalities and Viacom knows it. It doesn’t even seem to be trying to make a real case under the DMCA.
I still think that the lawsuit — which Cynthia Brumfield at IPDemocracy correctly describes as “puffy and fluffy” — is really just another case of negotiation by other means, just like the notice and takedown letter about the 100,000 clips. I would also agree with Henry “I used to be a famous Wall Street analyst” Blodget that it is unlikely to be successful.
I also think that, regardless of the merits of the case (which are not nearly as strong as Viacom’s blustering press release implies) my friend Paul Kedrosky is right, and this lawsuit is fundamentally just dumb. Not necessarily wrong in a legal sense — but still dumb.