Hoping to convince people of the grave injustice or simply to fill column inches, Viacom’s general counsel Michael Fricklas wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post presenting his company’s position on their lawsuit against YouTube.
Aside from their complete insanity (isn’t sister company CBS okay with YouTube showing videos), Fricklas tries to offer a logical argument likely aware of the PR nightmare this lawsuit could cause. Obviously I’m a little bias against him, but even while trying to have an open mind, his argument falls flat on its face.
Fricklas relies on a bizarre reading of DMCA and are warped understanding of the internet and filtering tools. The DMCA safe harbors, which Google and YouTube are likely to use as a defense, allow for content sites to not be held responsible for what users upload as long as complaints are responded to and cannot knowingly let inappropriate content be uploaded. Fricklas claims, wrongly, that YouTube must know about copyright infringing videos because they know about spam and porn and hate videos. What he doesn’t notice is the “Flag for inappropriate” link that allows any user to tell YouTube when these kinds of videos are uploaded. Users police users in this content landscape.
Of course, Viacom would be considered one of the users in this equation, and that’s what they seem to not like. Fricklas says it’s unrealistic to expect copyright holders to police the web for copyright infringement. Google should do it – for everyone. This might work out better for everyone, since Viacom has shown they barely understand the copyrights they hold. Or did Congress do aware with fair use and no one told me?
Likely Fricklas isn’t presenting Viacom’s entire legal argument. But protecting outdated business models by suing fans doesn’t seem like a viable defense.