Several major Internet companies have joined in defending Google as the search engine prepares to defend itself against a copyright-infringement suit filed by media conglomerate Viacom.
In a court brief filed Wednesday, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo and IAC urged the federal court in New York to toss out the suit on the grounds that Google-owned YouTube, which is at the center of the suit, is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. The law protects Internet service providers from the illegal sharing of copyrighted material among their users, if the service providers agree to take down offending material when notified by copyright holders.
In the brief, the companies argued that if the court sided with Viacom, then it would open up other Internet companies to lawsuits and deter further innovation on the Web.
"Plaintiffs' (Viacom's) legal arguments, if accepted, would retard the development of the Internet and electronic commerce, create uncertainty for service providers regarding their legal exposure for alleged infringements, and inhibit the growth and development of user-centric online models that, day after day, make the Internet and the world more democratic," the brief says.
In court documents unsealed in March, Viacom argued that "YouTube intentionally operated as a haven for massive copyright infringement."
"They were seeking to build a media entertainment empire comparable to other major television and film distribution outlets -- and did just that," the company said. "They are therefore ineligible for [DMCA safe harbors]."
YouTube has argued that it responded to copyright holders the best it could, and claimed that Viacom made it impossible for the video-sharing site to remove Viacom's copyrighted content because the media company kept adding more content.
Viacom, the parent company of MTV, Comedy Central, and Paramount Pictures, filed the $1 billion lawsuit in March 2007. The original complaint claimed nearly 160,000 unauthorized clips were made available on YouTube, and those clips had been viewed 1.5 billion times.